It is very difficult for him/her to give the "hard" messages or give constructive feedback to others. When he/she does have to give a negative message to someone, it's always someone else, usually a superior, who has coerced them to do so. They make it a point to let the individual know that it's not their idea.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, you are in the presence of a "weak" leader!
What to do about it?
First, to understand the "weak" leader, we need to discuss a little behavioral psychology. A "weak" leader learned this behavior, usually as a child, from some weak authority figure in their life. Since this authority figure, either a parent, guardian or babysitter, seemed to effectively survive by acquiescing to significant others, "getting along by going along", the future "weak" leader learned that it is good not to challenge or speak up to others. This way one stays out of trouble.
As humans, we have a tendency to repeat what works for us. If we see that a certain behavior is getting the results we want, then we keep on doing it.
So, the first step in dealing with a "weak" leader is to help him/her see that they are NOT getting the results they want.
Once the "weak" leader admits that they need to do something differently, the next step is helping them see "HOW".
If you look at the picture above, you'll notice that the "weak" leader is blindfolded. This is the image that weak leaders carry in their heads. They never feel that they have enough information to make a decision - they can't "see" their way clear to take an action. Therefore, they appear to be indecisive and befuddled. The blindfold also symbolizes how the "weak" leader likes to operate - "see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing".
You can also see the drops of sweat falling from the "weak" leader. This person tends to live in fear and, to some degree, is insecure about everything. They quake at the thought of having to "stand up and be counted".
And you have probably noticed the target above the "weak" leader's head. He/she always feels like the prey in the jungle, like there's a target on them. They live in fear of being "found out". Usually, they feel like imposters, that they can't have deserved the promotion they received.
So, what is the "HOW" in this case?
The first step is helping the "weak" leader feel supported. They need to feel that they have someone that they can trust and rely on to "be there" for them. An executive coach, as a third party, outsider to the company, with no hidden agenda, can fill this role.
The executive coach supports the "weak" leader in the self-discovery process. This is done by conducting 360-degree feedback interviews with a sample of people who have dealings with him/her.
The survey is confidential and conducted by a third party. The "weak" leader is assured that no one else sees the results except the coach and him/her. The whole purpose of the feedback is to help the "weak" leader see what needs to be done and given a motivation to change.
Then, based on the feedback, the coach and "weak" leader design an action plan to change his/her self-defeating behaviors. Usually, a plan is made to help the "weak" leader organize and prioritize his/her activities.
The "weak" leader is also coached in delivering "hard" messages and dealing with conflict. Sometimes, a "weak" leader is advised to change style of dress and adjust posture, being more formal and authoritative.
This process does take months of constant support and positive reinforcement from the coach. After a while, colleagues and other employees begin to see a change in the "weak" leader's manner - he/she appears more confident and self- assured. They begin to treat the "weak" leader with more respect and begin to include him/her more in the decision-making again.
It becomes a win-win for everyone!
The famous futurist (a business theorist), Joel Barker, in his consummate work, LEADERSHIFT, says that a great leader is a "charismatic" leader. The work of the coach, with the "weak" leader, is to create the perception of influence, power, and allure. All of which describe the "charismatic" leader.
It's a known fact that employees and team members "choose" to follow a "charismatic" leader. Would you "choose" to follow a "weak" leader? Would anyone you know willingly "choose" to follow a "weak" leader?
Of course, we wouldn't! So, let's help change the negative way in which they behave. It is possible to do this with integrity, perseverance, positive reinforcement, commitment, and the unbiased support of an executive coach.
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