How do we help abrasive leaders become effective leaders?

When we think of powerful leaders, we often think of people who are intelligent, purpose-driven, passionate and of great integrity. Of course there are many different leadership styles, yet people often think of the “strong leader” as a force of nature. 

Workplace Warriors

Jordan Goldrich has deep expertise at helping strong-willed leaders be effective, to be Workplace Warriors. These leaders are truly a force of nature and often share the same leadership challenge: tempering their sometimes abrasive behaviour. The goal is to see opportunities to be a samurai instead of a bully, as these people can sometimes be labelled.

For years in my coaching I have used the analogy of wind. If these leaders are at their best, they are a powerful wind that propels their entire team or organization. At their abrasive worst, these leaders create a destructive hurricane. Jordan has written extensively about the best of these leaders. They have an uncommon desire to succeed, thrive on adversity and see their leadership role as an opportunity to serve. At their worst, there can be scorched earth behind them.

There is a fine line to walk here.

We want these leaders to leverage their gift of willpower, by involving people in their mission and avoiding a command & control approach. We want them to leverage their passionate pursuit of a vision, but it’s important that they motivate a team around a shared vision. In my experience, many of these leaders are focused on the “3 Ps” of personal ambition: the pursuit of profit, paychecks and power.

The key to walking the fine line between effective and abrasive leadership is to remember the “fourth P” … people. Our research with the High-Performance Index™️ shows that abrasive leaders often score higher in Clarity, and sometimes in Accountability. They usually fare worse in the HPI categories of Meaning, Teamwork and Helping People Grow. 

How do you focus on "people"?

Using the data from our High-Performance Leader 360° Review to help identify and support the development of Workplace Warriors, we can pinpoint exactly what a leader should work on. The development areas for future Workplace Warriors often revolve around “people”. And while “people” may sound ambiguous, there are specific things that are entirely within their control and will produce immediate results. You don’t need HR. You don’t need a corporate planning offsite. You don’t need 10 people to be better teammates with each other. Your journey likely starts with two core elements:

  • Showing a genuine interest in the personal development of your team 
  • Live your organizational values

These are two core elements of what we call the Human Experience of Work, which entails both work engagement and psychological safety. Our research shows that if these leaders focus on creating a better human experience of work for everybody around them, their ability to achieve goals will go even greater heights. There is a 90% chance that an abrasive leader will make rapid progress by focusing their leadership development efforts on these two core elements of high-performance culture. 

What do you think would help you on your Workplace Warrior journey?

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Jeff is the Founder & CEO of SupportingLines. He is also a certified Master Corporate Executive Coach, seasoned C-suite business leader and yoga instructor.

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