This fourth post on the characteristics of anabolic and catabolic leaders focuses on whether and how leaders assess themselves by examining how their actions and attitudes affect themselves, their results and the people around them.
Catabolic leaders operate in their own little worlds. They rarely—if ever—stop to consider the larger consequences of what they are doing and how they are doing it. If catabolic leaders do assess, they self assess. They don’t ask for input from people around them because they fear that in doing so they might appear weak or receive input that conflicts with their glowing, myopic self assessment. Because catabolic leaders believe they are always right and others who might disagree with them are always wrong, there would be no value in seeking outside feedback.
In contrast, anabolic leaders are always working on themselves. Not only are they willing to take hard looks at themselves, they also solicit, and carefully contemplate upon, feedback from others. Anabolic leaders consider third-party feedback to be crucial to continued growth and development personally and professionally.
Consider Catabolic Curt and Anabolic Amy, two leaders in the same organization. Both manage several team members, and both recently had to deal with customer complaints they’d received. Curt responded curtly as he blamed his team members for the problem and told them exactly what to do to correct it. Then when his proposed solution didn’t work, he blamed his team members again for not implementing the plan properly.
Amy handled the situation differently. She and her team started by brainstorming the root causes of the customer complaints to help ensure that whatever steps they were going to take would fix the real problems permanently. After agreeing on the root causes, they came up with a variety of potential solutions, weighed the pros and cons of each and agreed together on the optimal course of action. When their chosen plan failed to produce the desired result, Amy sat down with them again to determine what factors they had not considered or misjudged and any information she had miscommunicated or failed to provide. Their feedback helped her strengthen her own leadership style in ways that yielded benefits inside and outside of the office. Amy’s response demonstrated that her team members can trust her to behave constructively when they respectfully provide clear, candid feedback.
By refusing to mentally and emotionally hijack themselves and others with catabolic energy-fueled blame obsession and ego fragility, anabolic leaders become role models for constructive growth and collaboration personally and professionally—encouraging their teammates and organizations to flourish and prosper as well.
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