Five leadership development tips to think about before you “pull rank”


“That’s it. Enough of this trying to figure it out together!  The collaborative problem solving mumbo jumbo Conceptual image of light bulb on wall with sketches of ideas.jpeg
isn’t working and I am going to pull rank and solve this today, right now! We need to replace those lazy poor performers and make things right again.  It’s time for the grown-ups to show the kids how to do things around here.  Tell HR to start posting jobs!”

The words seemed to hang in the air frozen in a moment in time from a long, long ago.  The other business professionals in the room stopped, stared, and were silent as they pondered what these words actually meant to them and the rest of the organization.  The experienced leader in the finely tailored jacket who spoke them has been the CEO for more than a decade and had reached his tipping point about the many and continuous problems in the Quality Assurance department which were lowering the Net Promotor Scores and decreasing profitability. 

While the frustrated executive may have let off a little steam, and perhaps even temporarily addressed the problems in the QA department, there probably is nothing more demotivating and disengaging to an organization as a leader who “pulls rank” and doesn’t solve the problem with the right people who can solve the problem.

Of course solving business challenges like these is not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort to get it right.  As part of Advantexe’s continued research and work in the area of Business Leadership, we have put together this list of five leadership development tips to consider if you are a leader and are about to, or tempted to, “pull rank.”

Determine your desired outcomes

What is it that you are really, truly trying to accomplish?  What are your desired outcomes? Are you trying to solve a business problem or are you trying to prove a point?  Being a bully as a leader is never going to work in the long term.

Be aware of your motives

Self-awareness is one of the most important behaviors you can exhibit as a leader.  Before you act, take a moment to think about your motives, why you are thinking about “pulling rank.” and how you are going to be perceived by others.

Understand the personality styles of your audience

In a good, strong, and diverse workforce, you are going to have all different types of personalities who are going to be impacted by this act of “pulling rank.”  Make sure you are prepared for the consequences from those style who react poorly to this.

Think about the words and images you present

Antiquated phrases like “Shape up or ship out”, “I’m going to show them who’s the boss,” and “It’s time for the adults to show the children how to behave” can be very hurtful and can have a seriously negative impact on the entire organization.

Pay attention to the different generations

In some organizations you can have up to 5 generations of workers ranging from the late baby boomers through to the new millennials.  Each generation will react differently and the danger is that you alienate the majority and erode your level of trust and leadership respect.

In summary, it’s easy to become frustrated and lose your temper. Frustrated leaders want to take action and do it themselves to get the job done and to prove a point.  The next time you hear that voice deep down inside start to rise up to pull rank, think for a moment or two about the implications.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.