Have you ever been stabbed in the back?

October 20th, 2014

Stabbed in the backThere has been a lot of talk about ‘bad’ leaders in the press lately. Take for example Phil Mickelson criticising new captain Tom Watson after the US team’s Ryder Cup defeat, or Kevin Pietersen’s accusation of bullying from Andy Flower and Matt Prior, head coach and vice-captain of the England cricket team.

Whether the accusations are true or false is not, in my mind, important. What’s important is HOW these two sportsmen have chosen to go about venting their frustration – talking to everyone else (i.e. the nation) rather than directly to the people that they have the issue with.

Imagine hearing that your star performer has a problem with you from somebody else – it feels like a massive stab in the back, right?

So how do you as a leader stop this sort of thing from happening? How do you ensure that your people are able to come to you with a problem – not talk about you to everyone else? After all, that sort of negativity can catch like wildfire, and soon you find that everyone is feeling the same way.

It’s about being open. It’s about being willing to take on feedback and do something with it. It’s about actively encouraging your people to give you feedback and making sure that you listen to what they are saying, without defensiveness or anger and accepting responsibility for your part in the problem.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with what Phil and Kevin have said about their leaders. Perhaps they created a bullying culture, or perhaps they didn’t. Perhaps they didn’t unite the team as well as they should have done, or perhaps they did everything within their power to do so. But one thing is for certain about their leadership style – they didn’t get their team members on their side and have therefore faced the consequences.

By Emma Webb