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When Your Leadership Best is Rejected? (#142)

TCL Illustration 142

The Confident Leader


She attempted to motivate her team to close the quarterly revenue gap, but she ended up on the list of CEO blunders. The leadership pundits’ say she needs more empathy, but the issue may be deeper. Let’s explore.

““The [person] who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic — the [person] who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the [person] who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.”

— Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States)

This Week’s Edition

How can leaders confidently step forward to lead when market volatility is paired with employee hostility toward their leadership approach or style?  

Clarify Your Thinking

Recently, there have been a string of highly publicized CEO missteps. The main accusation – leaders at the top are out of touch and tone deaf. 

Their leadership messages are not resonating with their employees, and the click bait headlines are harsh, “Leaders Need More Empathy.” 

Behind closed doors, top leaders are asking themselves, “what about personal responsibility and accountability for results?”  Assuming both sides have valid points, who’s right?

The recently embattled CEO of MillerKnoll, Andi Owen is responsible for the financial performance of the company and accountable for the revenue shortfall – the impetus for her attempted motivational message

“Spend your time and your effort thinking about the $26 million we need and not thinking about what you’re going to do if we don’t get a bonus. All right? Can I get some commitment for that? I had an old boss who said to me one time, ‘you can visit pity city but you can’t live there.’ So people: Leave pity city. Let’s get it done.”

The backlash against her was almost immediate!

Every day leaders experience this type of reaction as they attempt to do their job:

  • Address a serious issue: “We are behind in sales.”
  • Instill belief that it can be done: “We have to focus on the right things.”
  • Encourage resilience: “Let’s not wallow. Let’s do something productive.” 

Clearly, something is getting lost in translation from leaders to their teams. For example, Ms. Owen’s remarks (like other top leaders) missed the mark wildly for the audience she was addressing. 

Old Thinking: What’ wrong with them? This is serious. I’m doing the best I can. Can’t they see that. 

New Thinking: Whoa… my message landed wrong. What happened? I better lean in with my team to understand how I can connect better. We need each other to be successful.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Today’s organizations have an uphill battle. To be successful in these choppy waters they have to rely on their team members – their greatest asset. 

As a result, leaders will have to make big requests of their team. If leaders have a “small” relationship with their team the big requests will land flat. Just ask Ms. Owen.

But when the size of the relationship increases to match the size of the request much can be accomplished.

The pandemic lockdown and the work from home phenomenon have decreased the strength of our interpersonal relationships. No longer are we gathering in the office to build our relationships in the way we used to. It’s having an impact:

  • Less personal interaction to truly get to know one another
  • Less understanding for one another’s circumstances
  • Less grace for each other’s mistakes
  • Lack of consideration for someone’s intent apart from their actions

If you care about people and their role in the company’s performance, let’s get back to basics. Let’s focus on rebuilding relationships. Here are a few examples from leaders we work with:

  1. Host an annual in-person offsite for the entire company
  2. Structure some small groups to meet weekly to support one another
  3. Walk the floor for one hour each week to chat with the team
  4. Roll up your sleeves and join the frontline workers to do their job

Let Ms. Owen’s experience be an example from which you can learn a valuable lesson you don’t have to experience firsthand. When the size of the relationship increases to match the size of the request, much can be accomplished. 

Boost Your Performance

I received an 811 business emergency call from a client. Based on a developing issue, the leader needed to address his team. He was questioning his approach to his message given his recent challenges with a particular part of the team. Find out how he did in this week’s video.

#142 from Robin Pou on Vimeo.

What’s Your Opinion?

What is one thing you can do this week to build stronger relationships in your organization? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


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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.