A few years back I had a slave-driver of a boss. Regardless of how hard we worked, what we did or didn’t do, it was never good enough. She openly didn’t care about pushing her team into overwhelm. People were constantly exhausted. Self-confidence, positivity and hope for the future was being sucked from us. There were tears nearly every day. And resignations. Then recruiting new lambs for the slaughter. These were not happy days. And no, I didn’t stay long.
More recently, another boss bullied and steamrolled the team. It had to be his way or the highway. He always new best. His style was very hierarchical, looking down to us. He talked about our colleagues behind their backs – making us wonder what he was saying about us behind ours. It didn’t feel safe working on his team. We didn’t trust him. We certainly were too scared to be open with him. This impacted the team’s performance, reducing the potential for improvements, creativity and innovation.
You experienced leadership styles like this?
These are two examples of what’s called dissonant leadership. Let me explain.
Looking in the dictionary, and dissonance is defined as: “an inharmonious or harsh sound; discord; a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion; an unresolved, discordant chord or interval…”
So, dissonant leaders are often out of touch with the feelings of the people in the room, upsetting them, putting them off-balance and pushing them to perform badly. Sometimes they even drive people to frustration, even rage. Toxic or negative communication is often present, which can trigger a fight-or-flight reaction. Dissonance dispirits people, burns them out, drains them – think of the “Dementors” in the Harry Potter books.
You don’t want to have a dissonant leadership style now, do you?
No, rather have a resonant leadership style.