People fear power.

Leaders tend to think their teammates are somehow the exception. They cannot imagine the terror of their position. I am constantly reminding my clients that their people are scared – of them. They almost always look at me in disbelief. Fact. Lead anything and this is your reality. You are surrounded by bullshit artists filled with fear. You’ve had so much sunshine blown up your skirt, you unconsciously kinda like living in this information vacuum. Funny, huh.

I led a team of high performers for twenty years at CompuServe. I thought they were the exception to the norm. I thought they were telling me the truth – they were not. I didn’t want to know the real, hard truth as evidenced by my lack of digging through repetitively asking the hard questions. I was nice instead of kind and didn’t push them till they got pissed enough to come clean. We underperformed as a result. We were good but not good enough to avoid extinction. So, we died a premature death of our own making. Now that’s some hard truth that hurts…

People FEAR power and it hurts performance, period. Your system is filled with normal people unwilling to tell you the truth. You are going to have to dig to get the kinda truth you gotta have to lead ’em toward excellence. They know. They just don’t know how to tell you. Fear causes their words to somehow get caught in their throat. They move their lips. Nothing hard to hear comes out. Normal.

Your problem is you don’t get dirty enough. You don’t dig. You don’t push. You don’t listen and beg them to tell you more. Instead, you shut ’em down early and often and they quickly learn to stop moving their lips except to pucker up and kiss some butt. Bummer all around. Eventually the leader loses it. Usually they get pissed whenever the nums aren’t what they want and by then it’s too late. Every day I am a witness to this kinda fear and this kinda neglect. The fear piece aint going away.

People in power gotta dig. Are you?

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