Poor Leaders Are Me-Deep in Fooling ThemselvesAndré Gide, French writer and Nobel Prize winner for literature said, “The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

Sincere hypocrisy came to mind when a workshop participant complained about how badly his manager and their bosses needed that very leadership development session. He said a big moose-on-the-table was how senior management at their company are “a major portion of the problem they are trying to address by paying for training so employees can perform better. For example, teamwork training is for the employees, not the managers! I have yet to see most managers follow any of the principles they pay to have us learn. They don’t practice what they preach.”

Getting leaders to recognize and deal with their own ineffective behavior — and how they’ve sprouted moose antlers — is a constant challenge. Rarely do ineffective managers attend a workshop where the ceiling opens up to a clap of thunder and lightning, and they suddenly realize, “Oh, my God. He’s talking about me, and I need to change.”

Leading @ the Speed of Change is one of our most popular keynotes and workshops. Sometimes organizational leaders want to change “them.” They’re aiming to do it ‘to’ and not ‘with’ their team. But many leaders are ignorantly innocent, and don’t recognize the disconnections between their words and their deeds.

The word ‘hypocrisy’ has part of its roots in a Greek word, meaning “to play a part, pretend.” I have come to believe that there are two types of hypocrisy: (1) deceiving or being untrue to others; and, (2) deceiving or being untrue to myself. The first type of hypocrisy is basic dishonesty, an intentional attempt to fool someone else. The second type is more common. It’s an unintentional form of self-hypocrisy. It often comes from lack of feedback on how a leader’s actions are perceived by others.

Zenger Folkman have had over 100,000 leaders assessed by more than one million direct reports, peers, manager, and others through their 360 assessment and strengths-based development system. In this process, leaders assess themselves as well. They can then compare their self-assessment to the perception of everyone else. It turns out the leader’s self-assessment is only half as reliably correlated to results like employee engagement, profitability, productivity, safety, or customer service.

This underscores the value of a 360 assessment. By getting unfiltered and anonymous feedback on their leadership, leaders can stop deceiving themselves. This often helps him or her understand what’s at the root of frustration with poor workplace attitudes, poor teamwork, or low motivation levels.

At our youngest daughter’s sixth birthday party, a five year old boy hit Vanessa on the head. Asked to apologize, he politely refused: “Mr. Clemmer, I don’t apologize unless I see teeth marks or blood.”

Effective feedback processes help managers reduce or stop inflecting pain through the innocent ignorance of self-deception – before they see teeth marks or blood.

Click here if you’d like to explore 360s assessment and get help in building a strengths-based personal development plan.