Tag Archives: Organization

Are you Leading -or- Manipulating?

Most of us agree – leadership is influence. And there are times when influence morphs into down-right-out manipulation.

At it’s core leadership involves change. After all, what are we leading people to do? To be? Yet there’s a fine line between leadership and manipulation.

Both involve influencing others. Both attempt to persuade people to do what you want them to do. Both leverage vision, passion, and emotion to elicit a desired result.

So how do you know if you are leading or manipulating?

Pro’s and Con’s

To complicate matters, there are positive and negative aspects of manipulation. Manipulation can positively influence by skillfully treating with one’s hands or by mechanical means such as manipulating fragments of a broken bone into correct position.

More commonly, manipulation involves negative influence, especially in an unfair manner such as manipulating one’s feelings.

It’s this negative manipulation which goes beyond influence to controlling people and environments. Many manipulators live in denial never realizing they’ve crossed the fine line from leadership to manipulation.

Everybody’s Doing It!

All leaders, at one time or another, have manipulated those they lead. Many do it regularly. And most find it difficult to admit this tendency.

I’ve learned that healthy leaders regularly consider:

  1. Am I threatened when my team members stray from the vision? How do I respond?
  2. Do I have a tendency to shift things back in my favor?

When leaders acknowledge that negative manipulation is a real threat to their influence, they can take steps to eliminate these behaviors.

The Reason:

To determine if you are leading or manipulating, ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

Your underlying motivation reveals whether you are leading or manipulating.

When selfishness or self-preservation are present, it’s easy to become a manipulator. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant. Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer.

So are you leading or just being manipulative?

Here are 4 groups that are negatively impacted by manipulation…

1. The Manipulated

Manipulated people become hurt, disillusioned, and discouraged. As a result, their ability to lead and perform at a high level is damaged.

2. The Witness

When we experience the negative influence of a leader toward a colleague, we become wary of all leaders. Maybe we shouldn’t – but we do.

Those who witness manipulation find it difficult to trust leaders.  They carry self-protective attitudes forward into future relationships. And this painful experience causes them to withdraw from healthy leaders who could positively influence of lives and work.

3. The Organization

It’s not long before the organization suffers. Collaboration, problem solving, and decision-making are all diminished.

The result? Inadequate decisions. Inappropriate behaviors. Poor performance. Over time manipulative leadership will threaten the stability of any organization.

4. The Manipulator

A manipulating leader will never reach their full potential.  They simply cannot grow and will never experience the satisfaction that comes from serving others.

And they deserve it, right?

Not so fast – he may be you! Every leader is naturally self-absorbed. Executive Coach Raymond Gleason said recently:

I’ve never met a leader who couldn’t benefit from more humility.

Question: How have you seen a leader manipulate others? What were the effects? How do you guard against becoming manipulative? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Article by Michael Nichols


Articles  |  Bio

Developing a Vision with Your Team

My team had experienced significant change and growth. I realized that the speed of change within our organization was demanding that we focus on keeping up with projects while neglecting strategic planning and development.

While this approach was productive in the short-term, I knew that it was not sustainable. So I began assessing ways to clarify priorities and unify the team around common goals and objectives.

Not enough

Hard work is not enough. Productivity is not enough. Every team needs vision!

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast that details the relationship between vision and productivity. Just as you do, I know that many organizations have detailed core values, mission statements, and vision statements. And most growing organizations review and communicate them regularly.

Our organization has them, too! But the organizational vision could not clarify what our team members belong to, what we will build, and what we will become. And we needed that – we needed a team vision.

While our team was aware of company and institutional vision statements, they had never considered a department vision or a vision for their individual positions. I also knew thatthe vision would fail if I developed it and presented it to them to adopt. I needed to give the team the opportunity to decide if they were ready to develop a vision to take our work to the next level.

Vision process

So I worked together with Building Champions executive coach Raymond Gleason, to develop the following process:

1. We setup a team meeting to discuss vision. Although I invested time and energy in planning for the meeting and assumed that they would decide to move forward, I was determined not to move forward without them. We would proceed together, or we would wait – together.

So we scheduled several hours away from the office at a local community clubhouse – a relaxing setting which facilitated great collaborative discussion of vision.

2. Prior to the meeting I circulated the Harvard Business Review article, Building Your Company’s Vision, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. I also developed a simple worksheet to help my team think through the article. I asked each team member to review the article and complete the worksheet prior to the meeting and to be prepared to discuss business vision.

3. In the meeting, we reviewed the article and worksheet – focusing on the four components of vision – core convictions, core purpose, goals, and vivid description.

4. We reviewed the organization’s Core Values, Mission, and Vision. This is particularly helpful for younger, inexperienced team members as well as new members who may not have seen them.

5. I then asked them, Does it make sense for our team to have a vision? Every one of them expressed that a team vision would add significant value to our work. Several admitted that they didn’t understand the steps necessary to develop it, but they believed it to be critical if we are to continue to grow.

Several team members readily observed that, while the organizational vision was bold and effective, it was not specific enough for our team. We needed to develop our own.

6. The next step was to set up a vision development meeting. The vision development meeting should be a minimum of a half-day meeting – a full day is better. In this meeting the group works together through the eBook, Creating Your Business Vision, and drafts the vision. You can get a FREE copy of this by clicking here.

7. Following the meeting, our team leaders finalized the vision document and distributed it to the team.

8. Then, most importantly, we’ve been sharing the vision every chance we get!

I can tell you from experience that your work, your team, your influence, your leadership, your energy, will ever be the same! Because of this one purposeful decision.

Article by Michael Nichols


Articles  |  Bio