Posing, Posturing or Pretending – It’s Not Leadership

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Leadership Development

Last week, my colleague, Jennifer V Miller asked us to contemplate this thought from Tom DeMarko:

Leadership needs to be distinguished from posturing.”

Posture, posing, pretending – whatever you call it, not only does it not look good, but it can create a significant dent in your credibility and your employees’ willingness to follow your lead.

The thought reminded me… several years ago I heard a CEO talking about how well his company was doing. When it came to Q&A time I asked him how employees should reconcile that positive picture with knowing that some of their colleagues, at the same time, were losing their jobs due to downsizing. He responded with a very touching, inspiring anecdote about what another company did in a situation like this. But that didn’t answer my question.

I acknowledge that business is complicated, and paradoxes exist (e.g. business is great/people lose jobs), but please bother to try to explain it. I prefer the interpretation that he chose not to explain it to me vs. considering that the exec didn’t know the answer. Whatever the explanation for a response like that from a leader, everyone loses.

Over and over, responses that sound good, but really don’t answer the question, makes organization members question the leader’s competence and their own respect for them, thus eroding the leader’s privilege to lead.  Moreover, constituents want to believe in their leader, so they expend energy to make things make sense.  But they are just going to spin in circles because it doesn’t make sense – and then there’s just another hit to the company’s productivity because energy is being siphoned to unproductive activity.

Some say that character doesn’t count any more in leadership.  And despite any example that seems to support that case, know this – the laws of human nature can’t be cheated. People know when they are being avoided, disrespected, or exploited. Everyone, including the business, loses.

Or is this just a cost of doing business?

Adapted from post at Mary’s blog: http://www.reimaginework.com/category/blog/

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About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers: http://www.reimaginework.com/LCG/  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Gina  |  15 Oct 2010  |  Reply

Character is more important than most people realize. It speaks volumes about the individual that would follow a person with poor character or who is fake. Leaders- no one wants to be lied to. They can handle the truth- it’s better than finding out later that your leader didn’t have the integrity to give a straight answer.

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