Saturday, February 2, 2013

12 Ways to Avoid The Flattery Trap

Proverbs 29:5. To flatter people is to lay a trap for their feet.

As we begin the school year, everyone wants to make a great first impression. Employees strive to make the leader happy, and leaders try to encourage followers to follow. Let's face it. We all are eager to impress one another, and if we're new or there's a new leader in charge, this desire to impress grows even more. 

Leadership is difficult, and there are so many traps that can kill a leader, but the deadliest one of all is called the Flattery Trap.   There's good reason for that because flattery turns the leader's attention inward instead of outward.  It stifles the ability to lead.  It paralyzes progress, and it drags down development. 

Flattery in and of itself is manipulation. Followers employ flattery to disguise anger, ambition, insecurity, or any other unhealthy motives that undermine the leader-employee relationship. Flattery in its purest form is deception, and leaders must be cautious of people who continuously make flattering remarks and gestures.  How many leaders have we seen that were flattered into an inappropriate affair, immoral actions or the inability to correct flatterers?  What began as a harmless compliment compounded day by day, comment by comment, and act by act into a career-ending trap.

So How Can Leaders avoid the Flattery Trap?

1. Put up your Hedges
Establish boundaries for how people can engage you. 

2. Accept Compliments and Move On
When people compliment you, thank them politely but don't dwell on the compliment too long. 

3. Leverage Relationships to Achieve Outcomes
Building relationships is important but there's more to it. Build relationships with people that will help you reach organizational goals. 

4. Stay Focused on Results 
A lot of times, leaders get lost in the minutia of relationship building. It's important not to lose sight of relationships, but it's even more important not to lose sight of monitoring results. 

5. Commit to Consistency
Be consistent in how you treat every employee. Everyone is watching you and they are looking for preferential treatment. Consistency is critical. 

6. Monitor All
If the organization is to improve, then every employee must be monitored. 

7. Confront Equitably
Effective leaders confront behaviors not people, and they confront everyone in the same manner. 

8. Avoid Schmoosers
Shmoosers suck up for personal benefit and advantage. Find these people and keep your distance. 

9. Value Honesty
Engage people who are honest in all situations, not just those who know when to play the Honest Abe card. 

10. Engage in Intellectual Stimulation
Great leaders facilitate professional conflict and discourse. Flattery doesn't have a chance when the goal is getting better. 

11. Argue Frequently
By debating with people often about the course of the organization, leaders can quickly determine if a person is a flatterer or not. 

12. Value the Organization over People
People come and go but the organization should last forever. Effective leaders protect the future of the organization. 

What strategies do you use to avoid the flattery trap? Drop a comment and let us know.  

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