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Are you a rebel? An explorer? A knight?

Those are some of the unusual leadership traits outlined in a recent blog by consultant Lolly Daskal.

Beware: Each comes with a shadow side – she calls it a leadership gap – that is also a part of you.

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"Unless you can learn to integrate and leverage every part of who you are -- especially your gaps -- these hidden impediments will get the best of you, and your business and leadership will be impaired," she writes.

Here's the rundown, both good and bad:

  • Be a rebel: Daskal advises you to encourage your inner rebel. A rebel is confident thanks to his or her capabilities and competencies. “But when times are challenged or stressful or disagreeable, a leadership gap can emerge and leave even the most confident rebel feeling like an imposter,” she adds. “This self-doubt can cause havoc within an organization, and it won’t allow you to lead effectively. You can leverage any self-doubt you feel by concentrating on your capabilities and competence, and focusing on the positive things you have accomplished.”
  • Be an explorer: It’s important to find new, uncharted waters for your business. Intuition fuels this exploration, and it’s helpful to be able to let things go in order to make room for new things. The danger is becoming a manipulative exploiter out of a desire to control and micromanage. “To win out, you must invite your intuition to take you to the next level, and learn to leverage the moments when you want to take control,” she says.
  • Be a truth-teller: Effective leaders speak with candour and honesty, in good times and bad. The gap she identifies here is when deceit creeps in through half-truths and withheld information. That leads to suspicion and doubt, so try to stick with truth.
  • Be a hero: You need to be brave and courageous when others are timid and fearful. The reverse is when you know about problems and fail to try to fix them, becoming a bystander. “Be the hero of your business and take the courageous actions that are necessary for success,” she urges.
  • Be an inventor: Leadership involves an inventor’s mindset, seeking improvement and, indeed, excellence. The potential gap is the temptation to cut corners, opting for faster and cheaper, hoping no one will notice. But she insists excellence, integrity and invention are priceless assets that pay great returns far into the future.
  • Be a navigator: Your role requires steering and guiding others through the shoals ahead. As you prove adept, people will trust you. “But some leaders feel the need to fix every challenge and every crisis, and this gap can cause them to come across as arrogant. They tell people what to do instead of guiding them -- they bark out commands instead of utilizing others’ talents and strengths. The best leaders coach and guide their people instead of trying to fix them, which results in disempowerment and resentment. To gain trust and respect, be a navigator instead of a fixer,” she writes.
  • Be a knight: Loyalty was part of the Code of Chivalry for King Arthur’s knights. It’s important in organizations, as well. The gap to guard against is becoming a self-serving mercenary who appropriates the efforts of others, loyalty being only to oneself. “A self-serving leader, however, is not truly a leader,” she warns.

So be a rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight – all noble virtues. But stay mindful in each case of the shadow side.

Middle management: What's going wrong

Middle management is a step to senior management. But these days, the pressures on middle management results in bad habits for the individuals and the organization, before and after they are promoted.

So argues executive coach Dana Theus, who says organizations are opting for a "school-of-hard-knocks" approach with middle managers.

"In my experience, many companies view middle management as the crucible for leadership development. Promising young people are given greater and greater responsibility until they break, fall victim to the Peter Principle [in which they get pushed up to their level of incompetence] or emerge from the flames whole enough to be considered for promotion into the executive ranks," she writes on

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She doesn't think that's mean-spirited or always bad. But to survive, many young leaders learn to suppress their instinct about the need to take time to deal with stress. They also favour developing their technical skills instead of people skills and prefer to work with people like them, since it's less stressful.

The result: The people they lead start to share that low regard for personal stress management, emotional intelligence and team diversity. And when the survivors hit the top ranks, they believe that for the business to succeed, the culture must reflect those negative approaches. "Before you know it, the corporate culture simply perpetuates these values no matter how many thoughtful articles try to convince them that these are the very things that drive down their employee engagement (and drive up their employee turnover costs)," she says.

She is also concerned with another aspect of middle management. While companies allow top leaders time and money to deal with their poor leadership and stress-coping habits, middle managers are less likely to get that opportunity. The feeling is that top execs need to improve their leadership presence, but that's less necessary for middle managers.

"While coaching and other in-depth forms of leadership development are certainly an investment, the dearth of middle management level coaching programs puzzles me. It's almost as though middle managers are leadership development stepchildren, their importance to the company's culture and employee satisfaction chronically underappreciated and underfunded," she says.

That comes despite the fact her clients in the middle seem to soak up the benefits of coaching at this malleable point of their careers more fully than senior managers. So rather than defaulting to the school of hard knocks, she suggests working on leadership development with middle managers.

Four reasons to provide feedback

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Here are eight reasons to provide your subordinates with feedback, courtesy of consultant Kevin Eikenberry.

These four won't help you be successful:

  • It is part of my job.
  • I’m doing performance reviews.
  • I need documentation for their file.
  • I am expected to give feedback.

While these four will make you a winner:

  • People need to know how they are doing.
  • I want my team members to succeed.
  • When people know where they stand, they know how to keep growing.
  • People need (and deserve) feedback.

Quick hits

  • To add value to others, one must first value others, says noted life coach John Maxwell.
  • When your resume is emailed to a prospective employer as an attachment, the recruiter will probably only see the top half, at most. That’s the part to lavish special attention on to persuade them to dig deeper, says resume writing specialist Andrew Fennell.
  • While overseas travel promotes mental flexibility in executives, leading to greater creativity, new research suggests the exposure to different cultures and outlooks can lead to moral laxity. One study of MBA students found that the number of countries participants had lived in -- as opposed to the amount of time they had lived abroad -- predicted their willingness to use immoral negotiation tactics.
  • From famed analyst Mark Meeker’s 2017 Internet trends: Global smartphone growth is slowing, with shipments increasing only three per cent, and voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries, with 20 per cent of mobile queries made by voice in 2016.
  • Four questions leadership development consultant John Spence suggests asking yourself before you speak: Do I really want to say anything right now? Is what I am going to say adding any significant value to the conversation? Is what I want to say helpful, or am I just talking to talk about me? Do they want my advice or simply for me to listen to them?

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. E-mail Harvey Schachter.

Mark Mortensen of INSEAD discusses his findings about teamwork and how knowing what teams others are on can improve workflow Special to Globe and Mail Update

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