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Colin Graves

Iridium Consulting


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Blog: Dealing with the leadership ‘reality gap’


When someone gets ideas above their station and too big for their boots, it generally pays dividends to bring them back down to earth in the most diplomatic way possible.

It’s not always easy, but when it’s a close friend or family member you can afford to be frank.
At work it tends to be a different matter. This is a conundrum that employers are facing up and down the country, according to the latest Employee Outlook survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, because, while managers believe they are outstanding leaders, their employer thinks something quite different.
Some 72% of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills within their business. How do you best deal with this ‘reality gap’? It’s a tricky one, because while they could be jeopardising the effectiveness of the entire organisation, it’s important to handle difficult employees with care.
What if you could empower these individuals to better understand the type of person they are? Then in turn encourage them to question how their own assumptions impact on those they work with?
Personality profiling questionnaires like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, when carried out correctly, support individuals in becoming far more self-aware of the impact their leadership style has. With the MBTI managers get the opportunity to understand how their own styles impact or clash with the behaviours of those they work closely with.
Challenging assumptions
In effect, it’s executive coaching that empowers individuals to see things from other perspectives – it’s this detail and information that can lead to positive change.
A great example is the manager that took the MBTI and found out that he had a thinking preference (which means he tends to make decisions with his ‘head’ rather than his ‘heart’ and is logical in approach). He never said ‘hello’ to anybody in the morning because he didn’t expect that it mattered to those around him.
However, the MBTI made him realise that some people need a dose of appreciation from their manager on a regular basis. He successfully adapted his style – albeit in a small way – to say hello each morning to his colleagues. The result? People noticed a difference and the atmosphere in the office improved.
Then there’s the manager with a judging preference (controlled, organised and structured), who had no idea that asking his team to stick to the rigid plan that he viewed as best practice, was stifling for those who worked far better within a less controlled working environment.
Without challenging the assumptions that managers make how can they develop and improve? If the ‘reality gap’ does exist, as the CIPD survey suggests, the question is this: what are employers doing about it?
Equipping individuals with the reality of how they impact upon those they work with is the most effective and results-driven way to drive change throughout the people within any organisation. What are you doing to help leaders see a true reflection of their ‘people impact’ at the workplace?
Colin Graves is director of executive coaching provider, Iridium Consulting.

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Colin Graves


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