When aggressive leaders fall…

Guest Column: Rajeev Raju, Founder & Leadership Coach, Gravitas Consulting, writes on need to raise self-awareness, grow emotional intelligence & adapt realistically to situations

e4m by Rajeev Raju
Updated: Jul 9, 2020 5:06 PM
Aggressive Leaders

The Cricket World Cup matches held in England and Wales saw some dramatic semi-final games. Both the Indian and Australian teams saw three of their top order batsmen lose their wickets for paltry scores. What followed was a painful loss that the rest of their team members had to bear the brunt of.

Now by an unfortunate coincidence, three senior corporate leaders that I have known well recently fell from their respective top posts. While not comparable to the situation the batsmen were in, it nevertheless made me ponder on the common attributes that befell these executives. Here is what I realized in all 3 cases:

- they were all CEOs in globally well-known organisations

- their tenure ranged 2-10 years of being at the helm

- by age, they were in their late 40s and early 50s

- most of their colleagues called them ‘aggressive’ or ‘arrogant’

- feedback given on their behaviours was always subtle and not very direct

- they were mostly aware of such perceptions their stakeholders carried.

In all my interactions while coaching some of them or their colleagues, I often wondered how long will these behaviours carry on unheeded. Obviously, everyone knew of these attributes and attitudes. Most seemed to ‘bear with it’ and not speak up either out of fear or had simply grown indifferent.

So, what turned the tables on such tyrannical leaders? They happened to be:

- People surveys and anonymous communique avenues

- Global stakeholders paying more attention and listening to local voices

- Damage analysis of attrition rates, biased decisions, harassment, etc.

- Over-confidence that the system/people ‘can take it’.

While their exits will bring a sense of relief, and possibly delight, to some sections of the organization, their own images and repute stand tarnished. It will take some time, and reflective effort, to claw themselves back into meaningful roles and leadership positions.

Leaders must realise early in their careers that a dominating style will seem to work very well to a point in time. Thereafter, if they do not raise their self-awareness, grow their emotional intelligence and adapt realistically to situations, the cliff’s edge is not far.

Being declared out prematurely in their innings and having to sit for long on the bench is a very awkward and debilitating feeling! Ask those batsmen!!

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