Ten signs that you’re manipulating, not leading

Aug 7, 2010

Manipulation isn’t leadership, though sometimes it looks darn close. Here are ten signs you’re manipulating people rather than leading them:

1. When you arrive for meetings: You’re always last, and everyone has to wait for you.

2. When you take breaks in meetings: Any time you want, and everyone has to wait for you to return before the discussion can recommence.

3. Where you sit at meetings: The most prominent place at the table.

4. What you say in meetings: To begin with, a rambling monolog about what you did at the weekend, designed to position you as a ‘real person’; then very little while everybody else discusses the matter under consideration, then a closing monolog during which you give your definitive ‘take’ on whatever has been discussed.

5. How you end meetings: You alternate between (a) leaving abruptly and (b) giving a sincere but low-key ra-ra that you believe enthralls everyone and dramatically lifts morale.

6. When you have a one-on-one with someone: Any time you want. Preferably with as little notice to them as possible.

7. Where you talk to them: In your office, except when you think it will make you look cool to have a ‘watercooler chat’.

8. What you talk about with them: Whatever’s bugging you at the time.

9: What you ask them to do after the one-on-one: Take what you said seriously, take action, and most importantly, be accountable.

10. What you do about what has been discussed: Nothing.