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What’s Wrong with Them? (#43)

The Confident Leader

Best Boss/Worst Boss is a classic leadership exercise designed for people to recount their past experiences with their former leaders. It’s shocking to see how quickly (and emotionally) people remember their worst boss experience. This week’s doubt type is prone to falling into the worst boss category.

When my boss is mad and takes it out on me, I do less work. Can’t reward bad behavior with a positive response.
— Stealth employee who never tells her boss what she’s thinking

This Week’s Edition

What’s Wrong with Them?, one of five types of leadership doubt.

Clarify Your Thinking

When I first discovered this doubt type, I was surprised to find how much it resonated with people based on being on the receiving end of the resulting behavior of the What’s Wrong with Them doubt type. As you read this profile, think about a challenging boss you’ve had.


The leader experiencing this doubt type is often a quick-paced, do-it-myself visionary who:

·      Is ambitious and competitive

·      Is incredibly experienced

·      Has worked their way to the top

·      Has high standards

·      Generates new ideas almost every day, and

·      Gets stuff done.


Despite these attributes, this leader is wrestling with feelings of frustration toward their team. You can hear their contempt, “I’m the leader. Aren’t they supposed to do what I say? Why are they not moving faster, harder, better and more effectively?”


Their trigger is a perception that team members are apathetic and inept. This creates an instinctual response to push the team aside and do the work themselves. The team’s response? They step aside. What choice do they have? This behavior further reaffirms the leader’s original frustration.


Before relegating this type of leader to the category of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, it’s important to note that the What’s Wrong with Them leaders is just as confused as those they lead. This leader doubts their ability create true commitment and followership.


Old Thinking: These people don’t get it. I can’t lead them. Out with the old. In with the new.


New Thinking: If I’m on my second or third set of team members, what’s the constant? Me. Maybe there is something I need to do to be a better leader.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

This change in thinking moves the leader from blaming the team to looking at what they need to DO to improve their leadership. Here is a list of specific solutions for this distinct doubt type that I have employed to help leaders conquer this doubt type:


1.   Slow down. Go on a listening tour. Solicit feedback.

2.   Commit to getting to know your team over the course of a full year.

3.   Build true relationships with your team:

a.   A weekly 1:1 meeting

b.   Share a meal

c.    Spend time outside the office

d.   Be interested in them

e.   Talk with them not at them

4.   Yield to your team’s ideas in low stakes situations.

5.   Roll your sleeves up and work on the project alongside them.

6.   Take an emotional intelligence assessment.

7.   Enroll a trusted colleague to observe your interaction with the team. Give them permission to give you feedback on how you are engaging them.


None of these solutions will work if the leader is just attempting to slap a band-aid on the problem. There is no magic bullet for this type of leadership doubt. If the leader does not change their thinking to recognize their role in the leadership relationship, no amount of prescriptive action will change the situation. They must decide if they want to be the boss who says, “Go!” or a true leader who says, “Let’s go!”


Boost Your Performance

Most leaders who experience the What’s Wrong with Them leadership doubt will scoff at these solutions because they take too much time. Also, it’s hard to quantify outcomes when it comes to people and relationships. In their mind, it’s easier to dismiss them and chalk them up us “wrong.”


Leaders who recognize their need to improve their leadership in this area will take time to build true relationships with their team. Over time they will create the followership that decreases this leadership doubt. Check out this week’s video.

What’s Your Opinion?

Share your worst boss experience. Share your best boss experience. Let me know at


Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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