While waiting for a recent flight, I had the pleasure of speaking to a gentleman named Dustin. He is a 6th grade teacher in Florida and I could tell that Dustin is a guy who loves his job, enjoys helping and teaching kids and truly wants to make a difference in the lives and futures of those around him.
At one point, the conversation turned to those teachers who didn’t display the same attitude, and how they seemed to complain a lot and generally blamed the kids, the administration, and the parents for their bad experience (and attitude) as teachers.
Dustin then went on to talk about how this impacts the students.
“The kids can tell. They don’t respond well to people who don’t seem to care. They can smell fake.”
My first thought was, “like a dog can smell fear”?
“Sort of”, Dustin said. “They can tell when someone isn’t genuine, and they react to that with their behavior toward the teachers and fellow students, and you can even see in their grades.”
My second thought was, 6th graders aren’t the only ones who can smell fake. Our employees are pretty good at it, too.
Which brings me to this: leaders are like teachers. It’s a TOUGH gig to fake. I think fewer people are successful at “faking it until they make it” than they care to admit.
But there are plenty of people in leadership roles who, for one reason or another, have no business being there. The process that put them there is another blog for another time. I would rather focus on identifying the fakes and finding a different path for their talents.
And by the way, I don’t necessarily fault the fakes (yet). Again, the system that put them there might have been broken, or they may have thought it was the right move at the time. It’s those that have identified that they are faking their way through that need a swift kick in the pants.
Here is what I have seen fake, ingenuous, I’d-rather-be-somewhere-else type of leaders do that impact their credibility, trustworthiness and ability to be respected.
- Inconsistent behavior – The ol’ Jekyll and Hyde. “I wonder who is showing up today?” is a common question from employees. Employees find it hard to trust people when they don’t know what the reaction will be if they ask a question or make a suggestion.
- Haphazard policy enforcement – probably comes from the inconsistent behavior above, but what does it say when a leader decides to enforce a policy, rule or deadline one day, but the next day completely ignores it? Hard to know where you stand.
- Poor communication – In my experience, I attribute 99% of all leadership issues to communication… lack of, too much, or incomplete. When your heart and mind really aren’t in the game, it’s tough to muster the energy and patience needed to listen, convey the proper message and listen some more.
If this sounds like you, please gather your belongings and head for the exit. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. You are not doing yourself or your employees any favors by being fake and inconsistent. Should you quit without another job to go to? That’s up to you and your bank account, but PLEASE start looking for something that will truly align with your strengths and interests.
If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your employees. They deserve a leader who will openly communicate and LEAD them to greatness – not fake their way to mediocrity.
Thanks for reading!
About the author: In just a few weeks, Matt and his coaster nerd buddies will be embarking on their annual coaster extravaganza! This year they’ll be in California, visiting Disneyland, California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Blog, Twitter and Facebook posts to follow!