Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
image of people sitting at a window table looking out at a city

Your biggest leadership fault and what to do about it

You are a hypocrite. So am I. We all are.

Most of us are remarkably skilled at seeing the faults in others. It is easy to see that if Martha listened a little more and slowed down a notch, her co-workers would like her much better. It is easy to see that David is too focused on the budget and needs to be more caring with the people working for him if he wants them to pay more attention to dollars and cents.

It is much harder, though, to look at ourselves critically.

The result is that when we are coaching people on their shortcomings, they may have a very hard time with it. The hypocrisy can be overpowering. Martha cannot heed our advice to slow down and listen more because she can’t get over how much time we spend talking about sports in the workplace. David can’t accept our “get human” advice because he knows we have been over budget every year since the beginning of time.

There are two very important ways to help our staff get over the fact that we are just as imperfect as they are:

  • Ask for their feedback about what we could do better ourselves.
  • Admit you are a hypocrite.

At IBEX Payroll, we have made the first point a part of our staff coaching sessions. “What can I do to be a better coach or a more effective team member?” is asked during these sessions. And the correct answer to whatever a team member says is “thank you”. Whether we agree or not, we have to accept that this is what they see even if we can’t see it ourselves. By opening ourselves up as coaches to the observations of our staff, our intent is to make our observations about employee performance easier to accept.

Admitting to being a hypocrite means prefacing advice with the truth of the matter. “David, I am not perfect and I have many faults, as you no doubt have noticed. Yesterday I saw… it reminded me of myself in situations where I’ve done similar things, I’ve learned that… I recommend you/here are some ideas/you could try/I suggest…”

When we are strong enough to admit our own weaknesses and demonstrate our vulnerability, we become more credible as coaches and leaders.