Have you ever been in a situation when someone with authority walks in and your “hackles” raise? The feeling of dread instantly overwhelms you as the boss walks in the door. You just know they are going to get on you because the last project wasn’t done to their impossible standards. They are the type of boss whom you can never do right by. This reaction causes your flight or fight response to kick in. Most managers have some sphere of control, but can you tell if you’re the “Big Bad Wolf”?
Take a moment, think through how people react around you. Are you the Big Bad Wolf of the office? You don’t even have to be in a position of direct authority to trigger the fight or flight response in others. How is your attitude around others? Now (and I mean now) is an exceptional time to take stock of how your coworkers and employees react to you. Do they greet you with enthusiasm when you walk in? Are you avoided? Do they trust you, or better yet, do you trust them?
A true leader seeks to inspire those around them, not bully them into submission. How do you inspire your employees? Do you help them become loyal to you and the organization? Think back to times when an authority figure triggered your fight or flight response, how did you react? Did you really produce your best work under their constant bullying? It is doubtful you did; you might have done okay just to avoid the wrath, but by in large the majority of us do our best work when we are motivated with positive reinforcement.
Take the time to praise your employees, get to know them, and understand what they want to do. Your job as a leader is to find what inspires your employees. This doesn’t mean you have to give your employees a pass for poor performance. Part of being a good leader is holding your charges accountable for their work, just like your bosses hold you accountable. If you screw up and your employees are affected, apologize. A true leader leads by example. You can still build loyalty and trust with your employees by being consistent, praising them, and by treating them with respect and dignity. And no matter what, don’t be the “Big Bad Wolf.”