The Importance of Intranet Leadership, Part 2

By Paul Chin

Originally published in Intranet Journal (29-Aug-2006)

back back to portfolio

In part 1 of this story, Paul Chin discussed the importance of a good intranet leader and the qualities of such a leader. Here, he continues by discussing how not to lead a large, multi-disciplinary group of disparate professionals.

There are a lot of people who want to be leaders for all the wrong reasons: glorification of their own image, status, money, self-gratification, ego trip. If nothing else, we can learn a lot from their mistakes. They will highlight, through their actions, all the things we shouldn't do as good leaders. The table below highlights the guilty parties. See how many you recognize from your working life.

Intranet Leaders
Intranet Overseer Subsite Leaders
The Iron-Fisted Dictator Has a "my way or the highway" attitude. Iron-fisted dictators want things done their way and only their way. They're rigidly and stubbornly stuck in their ways, refusing to listen to their staff's suggestions. They believe their subordinates exist solely to carry out their wishes.
The Wishy-Washy Fence-Sitter Can never seem to make a decision ... or can they? Yes, no, maybe. Wishy-washy fence-sitters lack an assertive voice and don't have the self-confidence to make even the simplest of decisions. They walk right down the middle of every issue to avoid taking a stand.
The Vanishing Magician "I'll get back to you on that later..." Vanishing magicians never seem to be around when they're needed. They rarely make time for those below them. Staff queue up or mill about outside their office looking for guidance only to find an empty desk.
The Chronic Complainer They expend all their energy complaining about how things aren't going the way they want rather than doing something productive to remedy the situation. They always feel sorry for themselves during difficulties. They're also frequent victims of self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, constantly complaining that "this is never going to work" will cause it to come true.
The Egotistical Narcissist Narcissists are too busy worrying about how their actions will make them look to care about whether they're actually doing the right thing. The majority of their actions is to promote their own agenda and image rather than for the good of the team and project.
The Nervous Nelly They have caffeine running through their veins and a resting heart rate of about 93 bmp. The Nervous Nelly is unable to function in stressful situations. They're high-strung to begin with and will freeze up, unable to make quick and crucial decisions when they're needed most.
The Superficial Faker They wander about and talk like a used-car salesman. They're usually very efficient and effective speakers—and they talk ... a lot. They talk and never seem to get anything done. They do this to mask their deficiencies, using verbal slight of hand to hide the fact that they don't really know what they're doing.

Closing Thoughts

A lot of people, to varying degrees, wear masks throughout the course of a normal working day. They choose their words carefully, they try not to step on anyone's toes, and they suppress certain actions that may be deemed inappropriate or negative. But during stressful times, much of this professional facade can fade away, revealing something very different: instinct and survival, neither of which are always ingredients of good judgment.

Effective leaders, however, don't lose themselves during these trying situations. They don't shy away from challenges. Instead they take charge of themselves, their staff, and the situation. Leadership is required most during these difficult and challenging times—such as disaster recovery or a major system rollout. This is something that's learned through experience; it can't be inherited or bought. And it's through past actions that staff will respect and place trust in their leader.

Leaders, despite their staff's uncertainty and anxiety, will guide them through tough times. As the old saying goes, "Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it."

Copyright © 2006 Paul Chin. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of this article in whole or part in any form without prior written permission of Paul Chin is prohibited.