Risks of a Leader with a Halo


It was a very busy day and a lot of noise and activity everywhere, suddenly someone said “shhhhhhhhhhhhh” and all the noise stopped and there was an absolute silence everywhere and everyone rushed to their respective places, stopping their activities; my friend whispered, “God is on his rounds, with his Angels”, and I saw a very senior leader walking across with a couple of managers on his either side; a stiff smile on his lips.

Many of us experience such scenarios in our organizations all the time.

In the above situation one must closely watch the comments, the reaction of his people:   Why is that? Many of these individuals would not have had the opportunity to even speak to him, but it’s kind of a legacy, that’s just been passed on.

The kind of interactions that these leaders prefer is like the artificial intelligence of the negative kind. They want their team to be programmed and tuned to their ways of thinking!

What happens when you have such a leader “a leader with a halo”? what kind of leadership skills does the leader portray – how many of us would survive such leaders; What happens to the organizations having such leaders? This is a very difficult situation and unfortunately, we have many such leaders.

The organization will completely lose its high performing individuals due to congestion and suppression of individuality. They are left with only those who are the “Yes men/women kind”; they are happy to just be there like the furniture! These leaders want sublimation which is a defence mechanism; where this leader redirects his or her socially undesirable actions/thoughts into socially acceptable behavior. This causes what is known as identified pressure resulting in unwelcomed physical, emotional or verbal behavior in the team. So here the individual is faced with a situation where he can fight, flee or face the challenge!

The organizations should encourage 360 degrees feedback, to eradicate such unwelcome leadership practices among the top leaders. Feedback should be conducted by external sources to get an unbiassed evaluation and interpretation from the data collected. This will help to eliminate biases, and not jump to conclusions.

Constant coaching and training intervention for leaders at all levels should be encouraged by the organization. Change is constant; changes are happening all the time to them and to the people and situations around them. The leaders need to be very sensitive to these changes; understand the importance of change and its impact.

Coaching the busy leaders under expert guidance should become a norm of the organization to help leaders to rejuvenate and be champions of high performing teams.

How many haloed leaders do you have in your Organization ? Can you share your experiences for us to build a repository to understand Irrational Behaviors and ways to address them?


Author: Meena Ramesh - Director, Learning Experience Design

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