Leaders: Avoid Being The 800 Pound Gorilla

Leaders: Are you destroying trust in your team by being the 800-Pound Gorilla In the Room?

As the old joke goes: Where does an 800-Pound Gorilla sit? ANYWHERE he wants.

Do you sit anywhere you want? Are you a Gorilla to your team?

Do you close down communication with a wave of the hand or a raise of the eyebrow, not knowing your own strength? Or, do your small criticisms paralyze your staff because they sting more than you intended them to?

Do your ideas always prevail, even when they aren’t the best ideas or aren’t the consensus of your team?

To Build Trust, Leaders Need to Work on Having Self Knowledge And Manage Their Behavior

In our Leadership Coaching work we see the impact of this lack of self-knowledge in leaders at all levels, from CEO to Supervisor.

Leaders come to us asking: Why doesn’t my team trust me? Why does my team complain to their peers, but they don’t tell me? Why doesn’t my team come up with new and creative ideas?

These leaders don’t realize that what they say and do has a greater impact on their leaders and employees than what they intend.

Leaders, You May Be Using Coercive Power And Not Even Know It

These leaders don’t realize that they wield many different types of power and that the cumulative strength of that power keeps their employees, or subjects, hyper-aware of their every move, analyzing and calculating the meaning of their every word, and magnifying the effect of their expressions and emotions 10X. They are bullies without even realizing it.

As Hersey, Blanchard, and Natemeyer noted, Leaders wield many types of power: Legitimate (or positional power), the Expert Power, information power, connection power, and referent power (likability power).

And, they also use the physicality of Power Poses, powerful body positioning with their employees, and those Power Poses, as Amy Cuddy so eloquently describes in her TED talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, subconsciously, but very powerfully, impact those who follow them. Their staff instinctively adopts passive or protective poses, crossing their arms in front of themselves, slouching, looking down – and this biologically impacts their ability to express their power, and therefore their ideas.

The cumulative effect of all a Leader’s power translates into Coercive Power with their team, and  whether their team fully realizes it or not, they feel trapped, closed-down, they become self-protecting, not exposing themselves, and trying not to be noticed.

Signs Your Team Doesn’t Trust You May Be Subtle

Sometimes it’s very subtle. It feels like the team is outgoing and communicative. But your team instinctively knows what not to talk about and when not to disagree. This impacts the bottom line: resulting in business decisions that don’t take the full knowledge of the team into account, overlooked business strategies, underutilized ideas for new products and services, or for lack of process improvements.

Do you get frustrated, lose your temper, and not realize you are the 800 Pound Gorilla that no one is going to disagree with? Do you tell yourself that they need to be pushed, that you can make them do what you want them to do?

The next time you are in a meeting, ask yourself: Am I the 800 Pound Gorilla in the Room? Do I sit anywhere I want, get anything I want?

Leaders, You Can Change!

If you want to become a more collaborative, supportive leader who harnesses the brain power and full commitment of your whole team, tone down your word choice, messaging, body language, tone of voice. Ask questions instead of making statements. And, listen more.

Do you need help making these behavioral changes? Leadership Coaching can help.

Be the Leader you’ve always wanted to be!

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With Our Consultations Coach: Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC (BIO)
With Our Consultations Coach: Vicki Rich, MBA, ACC