10 Ways To Prevent YOUR Personality Risks from Doing Harm

At CDR, we have coached thousands of executives around the globe. After the deep self-awareness assessment and coaching, only a few of these leaders have dug in their heels and said something like:

‘Well, that is who I am… and my people will just need to deal with it.’

The time has come to “deal with” unacceptable leader behaviors—but not by rolling over and allowing them to continue. The way we deal with these is through accountability and by no longer tolerating bad or disrespectful behaviors by leaders. While all leaders have their own array of inherent risk factors (list below), some that result in inappropriate and dysfunctional behaviors, these personality predispositions are not an excuse for bad leader behaviors. For centuries leading up to today, too many leaders have been allowed, or even promoted, for their “bad” behaviors. Their bosses and boards just look the other way because of bottom line or other results they enjoy.

This must stop. This can stop. Leaders who lead people have one primary job: to show their employees that they value and respect them. When leaders value their employees and stakeholders, they show respect, support and cultivate their talent, and they build trust to fortify healthy working relationships.  This increases the odds for exceptional performance and loyalty.

Here are some examples of bad leader behaviors taken directly from the 360 Leader Scan™ feedback reports:

  • “What is distressing is when I get one reaction from him directly – then hear of a different one from somewhere else in the organization.”
  • “He made the new team member’s life miserable and by secretly putting roadblocks in her path to success.”
  • “I have been shocked at how poor her judgment is when it comes to exercising discretion in what she shares with employees about other employees.  It even appears that she tries to pit employees against others to gain her allegiances and isolate those she doesn’t like.”
  • “His effectiveness in the workplace is diminished because of his questionable judgment, motives, and pathological lying.”
  • “He’s a serial plagiarist.”
  • “I have seen her do some rather impulsive things like sneaking into other people’s confidential files.”
  • “Too often, people feel as though they are his “minions” doing the dirty work while he takes the credit.”
  • “She tends to belittle the people that interact with her by appearing to be flawless in her execution of assignments and shifting blame when mistakes are made.”
  • “Has a hard time managing people “underneath” him. Often demeans and is condescending. Doesn’t show the proper respect to people around him.”
  • “Demands rather than delegates.”
  • “Temper flashes on from time to time.”
  • “Often does not gather all the facts before reacting. Explodes quickly.”
  • “She needs to stay objective and not go to “bad places” emotionally.”
  • “Suggest politeness and manners; needs to avoid rude interruptions.”
  • “Takes calls during conversations. Interrupts when information is being given. “

As you can see, the above are examples of common bad behaviors demonstrated on the job. Some of these actual behaviors are worse than others, but all are inappropriate.  Risk behaviors typically manifest, or are triggered, as a reaction to the leader feeling stressed, attacked, uncomfortable, or having their buttons pushed.   While these are natural coping responses, they are simultaneously dysfunctional ways that leaders react when they are facing adversity or stress.  These type of risk behaviors are clearly disrespectful and inappropriate.

Here’s the catch: Every leader has risks. Here’s the rule: Every leader needs to manage their risks.

Here are 10 suggestions for leaders to manage, neutralize, and prevent risks:

  1. Take a deep dive assessment including personality character traits/strengths, and a leadership risk assessment for derailment. I also advise a motivational assessment to learn one’s intrinsic driver and reward needs.
  2. Hire a leadership coach or assessment certified consultant to debrief and discuss your risks, what triggers them, and ways to manage and prevent them. (We have many we can recommend!)
  3. Analyze your risks further and develop tactics and skills as well as practice new approaches.
  4. Continue to work with a coach, mentor, or trusted advisor to work through your risks.
  5. Manage your stress and your emotional responses to prevent automatically going to a risk response.
  6. Do work you enjoy and find captivating—when you are happy and content, your risks don’t show.
  7. Always be respectful and civil. Always.
  8. Work with your team to share your risks and learn about theirs. Help each other.
  9. If you misstep, apologize right away. Discuss and work on repairing the trust and building the relationship. Be vulnerable. Be humble.
  10. Build on your new level of self-awareness. Build on your strengths, find hidden talents, work on those things you enjoy and that energize you. Know your risks and what triggers them—and manage them. Be accountable.

When a leader (intentionally) keeps their risks in check and shows people they respect and value them, the sky is the limit.  When a leader values their people and builds trust, this has the power to transform the work environment from one of fear and misery to one of joy, fulfillment, and where boundless achievements are possible.

The following is a list of the 11 risk factors we measure:

If you have questions or comments about this post or would like to learn more, please contact us at cdrinfo@cdrassessmentgroup.com.