by Susan Cramm

Advice on Leadership and Workplace Behavior

Sep 11, 20072 mins
IT Leadership

Q: One of my direct reports is very talented and should be in line for my job. However, he’s a bomb-thrower when it comes to working with others and defensive about his people skills, to boot. What strategies do you suggest for changing his behavior?

A: Defensive people need direct tactics. Conduct a qualitative 360-degree assessment by conducting interviews with his key stakeholders. The qualitative assessment will provide in-depth insights as to his bomb-throwing behaviors with examples that will be difficult for him to deny.

Before presenting the feedback, discover his career aspirations, values and motivators so that you can directly link the feedback to his aspirations and how he wants to live his life. Once he works through the feedback and demonstrates motivation to change, send him to an emotional-intelligence seminar so that he can understand the behaviors that he needs to work toward and then provide him on-the-spot feedback—both positive and negative—so that he can start to internalize the changes he needs to make.

More on Leadership

Have a Leadership Question? See more reader questions and answers from Susan Cramm.

Q: Why do some executives think that they can influence others by throwing their title around?

A: They understand that positional power can be very effective in gaining compliance—in the short term.

Q: Driving change does mean stepping on some toes. Should I worry about this as long as those at my level and above are satisfied with my results?

A: If your peers and superiors are happy with your results and the people below you are miserable, you will have a hard time attracting and retaining people to work with you. Furthermore, you will limit your impact because those below you will “phone it in,” doing no more than necessary to get the job done. The job of a leader is to help others do more than what they believed possible, and this, of course, requires their enthusiastic participation.

Susan Cramm is founder and president of Valuedance, an executive coaching firm in San Clemente, Calif. You can e-mail feedback to