“Avoid & Tolerate” Leadership Costs Business Billions Every Year!
Written by Lisa Montanaro | May 18, 2011

By Guest Blogger, Skip Weisman

It was the summer of 1995 in the middle of my 10th season leading a professional baseball franchise when I was forced to face my shortcomings as an organizational leader.

After a very destructive altercation between key members of our organization’s leadership team I had address the fact that I was steeped in a leadership style built on “avoiding and tolerating” challenging employee performance and behavior issues.

You may be familiar with the leadership style some might call “Ostrich Leadership.” This is where the leader puts his/her head in the sand, wishing and hoping problems go away or take care of themselves, or that others will address the issue.

I was the type of leader who would avoid conflict at any cost. And, the cost can be exorbitant. For me the cost was two very good employees and a wife. My first marriage came to an end two years after the incident I described above, as my wife was the instigator.

During a seminar in which I was discussing my challenge as a leader with this avoid and tolerate leadership style, another experienced business owner admitted in a room filled with 50 other business professionals, that his avoid and tolerate leadership style had cost him about $5 million over the last 10 years of running his business.

What might it be costing you and your organization?

Even though, consciously we know, these situations rarely resolve themselves and usually only get worse; we continue to avoid addressing them. Then, we are forced to tolerate the impact on ourselves, and our organizations.

There are also costs to employee morale and motivation, as well as employee retention. It’s not just the leader that has to deal with the impact of these issues going unaddressed. Everyone on the staff feels the stress. This type of leadership behavior erodes trust in every work environment.

The cause of the avoid and tolerate leadership style is a lack of self-esteem caused by a lack of self-confidence in very specific areas of leadership, usually around having difficult or challenging conversations with team members regarding performance and behavior issues.

Leadership is a “soft” skill. Yet, we promote people into leadership and management positions based mostly on their performance in the areas of their hard skills.

It’s time for business leaders to acknowledge this fact and begin assessing an individual’s “people” skills when considering moving someone into a management position. And, then, offer the proper training and development so they can confidently lead their teams in a positive and productive manner.

Otherwise, the “avoid and tolerate” leadership style will continue to cost business billions of dollars a year.

Skip Weisman, The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert, works with leaders and their teams to improve bottom line results through better communication, collaboration and teamwork in all types of work environments.

Skip is offering a special opportunity to subscribers of Decide to Organize to join him in his brand new, groundbreaking FREE Video & Teleclass Series – “The 7 Critical Workplace Communication Skills of Confident Leaders” – learn more at http://tinyurl.com/lmosconfidentleaders.

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.