The Signs of a Compulsive Leader

Bad ManagementDo you recognize the signs of a compulsive leader? Some are subtle and need to be observed over time. Others are obvious when first experienced. Either way, certain outward behaviors signal to people they’re working for a compulsive leader.

I wrote about this in my last post, here. Compulsive leaders demonstrate high energy and dedication to long hours without complaint. Their emphasis on results is reflected in their speech and decisions. They are bottom-line people, often cutting off others to get to the main point. They take the direct and ultra-efficient approach. They refer to their accomplishments as a matter of habit and continuously cite their goals.

Compulsive leaders are obsessed with speed. Productivity looms large in their interactions, with tasks and checklists overriding feelings or emotions. They seek the upper hand and search for ways to win. Unable to sit still, they make every minute count.

Compulsive leaders also become impatient with discussions they deem too long or tasks that exceed their budgeted time frames. Slow people and inefficient meetings frustrate them, as do unnecessary explanations. Compulsive leaders are more concerned about averting delays than how their behavior affects those around them.

Image management is another noticeable trait, notes Beatrice Chestnut, PhD, in The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace (Post Hill Press, 2017). They will shape-shift to portray the image of success they believe others have, which takes a lot of work. They outwardly enjoy being in charge and having things done their way.

Their lack of interest in engagement, social skills or empathy indicates a greater priority on tasks. Being disconnected from people affects every aspect of the work environment, which the compulsive leader rarely recognizes.

The Pros and Cons of Compulsive Leaders

Though the compulsive mindset is hard to deal with, there are some beneficial aspects of this type of leadership style. The compulsive leader:

  • Accomplishes goals and achieves results
  • Brings a spirit of excellence to the workplace
  • Runs a tight ship and knows what’s going on
  • Is dedicated to people who do good work
  • Inspires dedication and teamwork

But the fallout from adverse effects can far outweigh the positives. A compulsive leader:

  • Can be insensitive and rough on people
  • Is intolerant of mistakes or slow work
  • Often sets the bar unachievably high
  • Micromanages “underperformers” and shows favoritism to achievers
  • Can’t deal with failure and doesn’t learn from it
  • Can overwork into exhaustion and suffer from bad judgment
  • Lacks humility and openness to vulnerabilities
  • Has a one-track mind that can reject others’ input
  • Causes dissention and disunity, stemming from a lack of people skills

These negatives can clearly put an organization in a poor position for long-term success. Coaches can help leaders take healthier approaches to success without the collateral damage to the workforce.

What do you think? Can you recognize the signs of compulsive leadership? I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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