Avoiding Pop Up Leadership

Websites use pop up ads because they claim they are effective, but these pop up ads can ruin your experience of a site and damage your trust. Just think of the last time you landed on a site with annoying obtrusive pop up ads. It sucked right? And you tried to get out of there as fast as possible.

Well a lot of successful people lead using interpersonal pop up ads that take the form of unsolicited advice and a constant need to add value. Sometimes you do this because they think they’re awesome and want to show off and sometimes it’s because you really want to help.

No matter the reason, this style of leadership while sometimes effective, can also lead to a negative experience of you as a leader and a loss of trust among the members of your team. It may get compliance and make you feel all leader like, but it will also make people want to move away from you as quickly as possible.

Not sure if you do this? Several of my clients have denied that bad habit when I first asked them about it, but after running them through these five questions they changed their minds.

5 Questions To Determine If You’re A Pop up Leader:

  1. Do you respond to problems with advice even if advice hasn’t been specifically sought?
  2. Do you add your two cents to ideas that are good but that you think you can make better?
  3. Do you find yourself making suggestions to others in the kitchen, during meetings, or when others are trying to complete a task?
  4. Do you catch yourself thinking, “If they just did it this way (or my way) it would be so much easier?”
  5. Do you interrupt others when they are saying something you already know, to assure them that you already knew that?

If you answered yes to any of these 5 questions then you’re guilty of being a pop up leader, at least some of the time.

How To Stop Being A Pop Up Leader

Here are the steps I give to my clients who want to stop leading with pop up ad’s and start leading with curiosity and humility instead.

1. Stop giving advice unless specifically requested.

If you need to say something so people won’t think you’re weird simply reflect back to the person what they said.

If your wife complains about how her boss is screwing up a project instead of giving her advice say, “So you’re frustrated because you don’t think your boss is doing a good job?”

This also works for employees complaining about customers, that talkative man on the airplane, and every other human relationship you have.

2. Don’t try to add value unless it’s critical.

Imagine your a high level surgeon with a very limited ability to speak. You can only say things that will save the patients life or vastly improve their ability to survive. Telling a nurse to adjust the way she tied her gown could cost you a patient.

Only offer advice or suggestions if it’s going to make a major difference, otherwise keep it to yourself. If this seems hard, then just try it for a day or a week and see what happens. Most likely things will run just fine without all of your brilliant ideas.

3. If you really want to offer advice, then simply offer it.

Sometimes you really do have good advice, but instead of just giving it, try leading in by saying, “I have an idea of something I think could be helpful, are you open to hearing it?” This way at least the person who’s getting the advice has given your permission.

But remember if they say no, shut up! It will be hard, but honoring this response is worth it.

4. Couch your advice in non-absolutes.

Don’t ‘should all over people’ by telling them what they ‘should’ do. Instead say, “This could be totally wrong I’m not sure, but if I were in your situation here’s what I would do. (Insert what you might do) Again that might not be right for you. What do you think?”

This is still giving advice, but at least you’re admitting that this advice comes from your worldview and perspective; and not some god like knowledge of how every being should act.

5. Just shut up.

I’m often guilty of being the one who raises their hand, asks questions, or offers a lot of feedback. But I learned a long time ago that when if I keep my mouth shut, other people would ask the same questions and give the same feedback I had in mind.

Instead of always speaking up, shut up and see what you’re team or co-workers come up with. If they don’t say anything on an important issue then you can bring it up. But if they do they’ll have the added benefit of owning the idea which will boost their desire to make it happen.

6. Don’t pretend your sh*t don’t stink.

Before you criticize or point out other peoples faults be sure you’re aware of your own. It’s much easier to see our faults in other people than in ourselves, so if your feedback is negative make sure that you’re not harping on something that you yourself suck at.

7. Apologize when you slip up.

Nobody’s perfect and there will be times when a pop up ad slips from your lips before you can catch yourself. When this happens it’s ok. Simply own up to your unsolicited advice and apologize.

At the very least it shows people you’re trying to get better, which will earn you a fair amount of good will.

Final Thoughts –

Becoming a good leader takes time and a willingness to learn and practice the skills of effective leadership. Becoming a great leader means doing all that and also unlearning all the bad habits that good leaders develop by mistake.

If you want to be a great leader don’t wait, start paying attention your tendency to prove your greatness and instead learn to embody a kind of leadership that makes your team, your family, and everyone else in your life the stars of the show.