You may have heard the phrase that it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. I was really surprised to see a customer, a senior leader in his company, totally ignore that advice. It got me thinking about how effective he is at work. I’m beginning to think that his attitude is costing him a lot of worker productivity. Here’s what happened.
We had a meeting scheduled and as we were walking into his office, one of his staff from the legal department stopped him in the hall and asked for his signature for a document. There was some urgency about getting it signed immediately. Instead of calmly saying, “I have a meeting scheduled now. I wish I had known earlier. It will have to wait till after. I’m sorry. I can’t make your deadline.” Instead, he threw up his hands and snapped, “I’ve got a meeting now. I can’t be at the mercy of the legal department!” Then he stormed into his office. What an in-your-face response! I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t want to be him when he needs something from the legal department in a business emergency. No one will throw him a lifesaver. ”
Why is it that some people at work think that it’s acceptable in business to speak to others in ways that they would never allow themselves to be spoken to? Do they think this is good management? It’s not. I’ve seen lots of different management styles over the years. I believe that the verbal abusers ––also known as ulcer carriers—make the worst managers. Women make the mistake of thinking this makes them more powerful. Wrong. Women have the added disadvantage of getting labeled the B word if they adopt this management style. What’s shocking is that someone in a leadership role is exhibiting this management style today. What a shame.
I had never seen this behavior in this manager before. Maybe he had a bad day. Still, losing your temper in business is something you want to avoid at all costs. It has too many long-term consequences that prevent it from being taken lightly. Think about the ill feelings this manager created. He could apologize to the person he attacked, but the damage is still done.
I hope you have a strategy for calming yourself when someone unexpectedly pushes your buttons and your emotions explode. You can’t attack that person in public. Even an attack in private is a dicey choice. The better response is to let that person know how disappointed you are in their behavior. I go for guilt. That self punishment seems to be more effective than anger. My advice is to practice your response before you deliver it. You’ll need the practice when your emotions are high.
My opinion of this leader is changed. He’s lost my respect. Why should he care? I don’t work for him. His employee probably lost respect for him, too, and she does work for him. I’m thinking that now, though, her work productivity is a whole lot less.