The Special One: pretending to be the Jose Mourinho of FC Leadership
You are well aware that you behave differently under stress than when everything is all calm and easy. Stress triggers different behaviour than normal circumstances. An excellent instrument to gauge the leader’s behaviours under normal and stressful circumstances, is the Hogan Personality Assessment, which measures perceived behaviour on primary scales and their sub-scales.
The Empathic Leadership through Psychological Safety Excellence assessment maps the Hogan primary and sub-scales with the 6 Pillars of Psychological Safety Excellence:
- Team trust & integrity
- Team creativity & innovation
- Team engagement & commitment
- Team ownership & responsibility
- Team performance
- Team satisfaction
Detailed explanation of the methodology in the following video.
Two of the mappings concerning the leader’s behaviour under stress deserve attention:
Bold behaviour impacts ENGAGEMENT, commitment & ownership
How a display of the leader’s bold behaviour under stress impacts the team’s level of engagement, commitment and ownership. Bold behaviour is defined as:
- The feeling that one has special gifts and accomplishments and, consequently, deserves special treatment
- Unusually confident in one’s abilities; the belief that one will succeed at anything one chooses to undertake
- Believing that one has unusual talents and gifts and that one has been born for greatness
IMAGINATIVE behaviour impacts INNOVATION & NEW IDEA CREATION
In conjunction with bold behaviour, it is also worthwhile to include the leader’s imaginative behaviour under stress, which impacts the team’s level of innovation and new ideas creation:
- Expressing unusual views that can be either creative or merely strange; tendency to be absorbed in these ideas
- Believing that one has special abilities to see things others don’t and understand things others can’t
- Believing that one is unusually creative, easily bored, and confident in one’s imaginative problem-solving ability
When I provide feedback to my clients who score high on both scales (bold and imaginative behaviour), I attribute this behaviour to The Special One.
The football minded clients smile and know who I am talking about: Jose Mourinho, the self-proclaimed Special One, one of the most successful coaches in football, who won titles with Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Porto.
Although Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful trainers in the history of football, he has a notorious reputation of being stubborn, bold, colourful and imaginative. This perception fits the two scales above.
But not everyone who thinks he/she is a Special One, is as successful as Jose Mourinho
Leaders who behave as the Special One, in their imagination, sent to planet earth to solve all problems with exceptionally brilliant solutions, lose their team on their way to solving the problem. What usually happens is that team members turn passive and await the leader’s answer, instead of contributing to creating a solution.
Team members may become lethargic as they are not involved in problem-solving and solution-finding. And since they are not engaged, commitment and ownership will drop significantly.
In the long run, the leader has isolated herself from the team spirit and will have to fix the engagement, commitment & ownership gap – which damaged the intrinsic motivation of the team members along the way – by finding other ways to motivate the team, usually money. This will prove not to be sustainable and conditional motivation has nested inside of the team.
Another negative side effect of behaving like the Special One, is that team members are not stimulated to be creative and to innovate: the leader knows it all and is not interested in other ideas than his own. Creativity and innovation thrive on a variety of viewpoints, a diverse set of opinions, brought-in and combined experiences. Innovation and creativity will eventually come to a halt, which will damage the competitiveness of the company.
THE RESULTS OF 20 LEADERS: THE SPECIAL COLLECTIVE
When you are a leader and the team perceives your behaviour under stress as bold and imaginative, you are not alone. Out of the a group of 20 leaders from as many companies and industries, who went through the Empathic Leadership assessment, the large majority scored high on these two scales, meaning:
- Only a weight of 34 points was allocated to non-bold behaviour, where as a weight of 111 points was allocated to bold behaviour. Meaning that more than 3/4th of the leaders are perceived as demonstrating bold behaviour under stress
- Only a weight of 35 points was allocated to non-imaginative behaviour, where as a weight of 124 points was allocated to imaginative behaviour. Meaning that close to 4/5th of the leaders are perceived as demonstrating imaginative behaviour under stress
The following diagrams show the scores for this group of leaders:
As mentioned above, bold and imaginative behaviour impact respectively team engagement, commitment & ownership, and team innovation & new idea creation:
- The leader’s bold behaviour hinders team engagement, commitment & ownership under stress
- The leader’s non-bold behaviour sustains team engagement, commitment & ownership under stress
- The leader’s imaginative behaviour hinders team innovation & new idea creation under stress
- The leader’s non-imaginative behaviour sustains team innovation & new idea creation under stress
HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL SPECIAL ONE & AVOID DERAILING
BOLD UNDER STRESS: WHAT TO DO?
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone who has the feeling that one has special gifts and accomplishments and, consequently, deserves special treatment, then:
- Lower your expectations for special treatment, and try to take responsibility for occasional mistakes
- Realise that subordinates are most likely to be productive when they feel respected; learn how to offer positive feedback to others when they contribute, rather than attributing accomplishments only to yourself
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone who has unusually confident in one’s abilities; the belief that one will succeed at anything one chooses to undertake, then:
- Use your confidence, energy, and determination to motivate rather than intimidate others
- Stop regarding team interactions as opportunities for competition in which only one person can win; remember the real competition is outside the organisation, not within it
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone believing that one has unusual talents and gifts and that one has been born for greatness, then:
- Recognise that you ignore negative feedback; seek feedback from family and friends who are not competitors and whose feedback is usually well meaning
- Stop over promising and then blaming others when a plan or project fails
IMAGINATIVE UNDER STRESS: WHAT TO DO?
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone expressing unusual views that can be either creative or merely strange; tendency to be absorbed in these ideas, then:
- Focus efforts on ideas that seem most interesting to others; this allows for a greater number of ideas to be acted upon
- Seek feedback from trusted colleagues who can offer insight and constructive strategies for interacting more effectively with others, without getting absorbed in own ideas
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone believing that one has special abilities to see things others don’t and understand things others can’t, then:
- Recognise that stimulating and visionary ideas are often hard for others to understand
- Careful consideration of strategies for implementation will give ideas greater credibility.
When you can imagine your team perceives you as someone believing that one is unusually creative, easily bored, and confident in one’s imaginative problem-solving ability, then:
- Partner with a colleague who may be less creative but better at implementation; by working together, ideas are more likely to be turned into action
- Stop offering opinions and solutions without being asked or before the problem has been delineated