How do you lead a ‘Marmite’ leader?
We’ve all had them in our teams. Those outspoken, challenger leaders who want to push the boundaries, go rogue, thinking at a hundred miles an hour and wanting to drive a new initiative before anyone can digest it, leaving a disgruntled, alienated team behind.
Love or loath this leader, like Marmite, divisive leaders are essential for your leadership team and organisation’s growth, so learning how to lead them effectively is well worth developing.
What happens when you combine Marmite with your C-suite?…
I was recently put in this very spot when assessing two very strong senior leaders for a C-suite position. On paper, both were well-versed in what they did with similar experience and exposure. On paper, there was no reason to choose one over the other.
👉 Except for that one important element. Dive in deeper, and Fit becomes the differentiator.
So, how do you assess a leader’s fit for an organisation when you have two leaders with almost identical backgrounds and skill sets?
The question boils down to Fit for what?
This is when understanding what type of impact the leader wants at this particular point in their career is essential, and most importantly, how the leader will bring people with them on that journey. That was the big differentiator.
One leader was going to fit quite seamlessly, and the other was going to be like Marmite.
When faced with this situation in an assessment, you’ve got to look beyond the obvious and question what differentiates leadership effectiveness beyond expertise and experience.
Will the hiring organisation take a risk on the Marmite elements as they offer a unique perspective, or will they look for a safer, longer-term play?
When you are responsible for cultivating a dynamic and effective team, it’s essential to explore the full spectrum of leadership styles.
Let’s review why a ‘Marmite’ leader is a good addition to your leadership team 👇
1: Direction Disruptor: They often have a laser-like focus and unwavering commitment to a particular vision, which helps to drive clarity and purpose in a new direction.
2: Decisiveness: They are fearless in making tough, unpopular decisions. Making quick, bold choices can be a tremendous asset in fast-paced environments seeking change.
3 Motivation: Whether through charisma, passion or excellence, they inspire those wanting to achieve a similar impact, creating a new energy across your business.
4: Innovation: They are able to challenge the status quo, push boundaries and question established norms. They act as a catalyst for change and can help teams to foster healthy debate.
5 Attracting Top Talent: They have a natural magnetism for like-minded individuals who resonate with their vision and values. This magnetic quality can draw in a fresh cohort of promising emerging leaders to champion the evolving agenda.
So, how do you coach the uncontrollable leader?
Organisations need to hire future-focused, disruptive leaders to remain relevant, so here are 4 strategies to help you harness this challenger leader’s potential.
1: Readiness Audit:
The first thing to be aware of is that this leader’s self-awareness tends to be a bit lower, which means they aren’t always fully attuned to their big, broad ideas’ impact on others. They typically could be better at understanding the readiness of their audience and think everyone is ready to hear what they have to say. This kind of leader can evoke fear in those around them, fear of change, fear of not knowing or being unable to understand. The team might not be ready because the idea is so forward-thinking, while others might feel irritated or confronted by this leadership style.
👉 Working with your divisive leader on developing their self-awareness will enable them to understand themselves and their style’s impact on others truly. Fostering a safe environment to share creative ideas is essential, balanced with creating more open buy-in or openness to discussion.
2: Inner Circle:
Bring them into your inner circle. Intentionally inviting this leader into your inner circle will help to motivate and elevate their thinking. Those strengths that could be seen as divisive can be harnessed and add value to your strategic initiatives.
👉 Who is in your inner circle? What complementary skills are they bringing to the table?
You are intentionally surrounding yourself with people who possess strengths you don’t. This will add to your team’s performance.
3: Slow Down To Speed Up:
Your divisive leader is motivated by progress through change and may race ahead, blurting big ideas without a filter of how those ideas will be interpreted.
👉 Coach them to slow down and consciously communicate what it is that they want to say and, from there, co-create a plan for how to say it so that when they say it, those around them hear what they are ready for, creating a zone of creative tension and motivation to want more.
4: Create Communities:
Strong, divisive leaders are attracted to the future vision of what’s possible, and they inspire high-potential leaders who share a future-centric way of thinking. Harnessing this energy is a powerful way to influence change across an organisation.
👉 These communities tend to be younger and encourage your divisive leader to influence your organisation’s next generation of talent.
What are your thoughts on maximising the potential of a ‘Marmite’, divisive leader?
For more information on our approach to leadership effectiveness, visit the NewlandRock Rock website or contact me for a confidential conversation.
➰ Leadership Effectiveness is the rock of every business.