855-447-4111 glenna@glennahecht.com

Living in Dallas, tornadoes are a part of life. Recently, a particularly severe one tore through the city, leaving behind a trail of destruction. It made me reflect on a different kind of storm—one that can strike within organizations: the tornado leader. Much like the natural phenomenon, a leader who operates like a tornado can create chaos, leaving a path of damage in their wake. And let’s face it, nobody wants to be the office whirlwind that has everyone ducking for cover.

Calm Before the Storm
Tornadoes often hit when least expected, during the calm before the storm. Similarly, tornado leaders can seem unassuming initially. They might even start off as charismatic and inspiring, making everyone believe in their vision. However, this calm is deceptive. Beneath the surface, tensions build until they erupt, catching everyone off guard. It’s like the moment of peace before your dog spots a squirrel—trouble is just around the corner.

The Aftermath: Damage and Breakage
When a tornado leader unleashes their fury, the impact is devastating. They leave a mess in their wake—broken teams, damaged morale, and a fractured organizational culture. Just as tornadoes tear apart homes and businesses, these leaders dismantle the structures that hold an organization together. Trust is shattered, and the workplace is left in disarray, struggling to recover from the chaos.

No Warning: Take Cover and Hide
One of the most terrifying aspects of a tornado is the lack of warning. Similarly, the unpredictable nature of a tornado leader means that employees often feel the need to take cover or hide to avoid being caught in the storm. This creates an environment of fear and uncertainty, where employees are constantly on edge, unsure when the next outburst will occur.

How Not to Create a Tornado as a Leader
So, how can leaders ensure they don’t become the organizational equivalent of a tornado?
Here are some strategies to maintain stability and foster a positive, productive environment:

1. Cultivate Self-Awareness: Recognize your triggers and manage your emotions. Understand how your actions and decisions impact your team. Regularly seek feedback to gain insights into your leadership style.
2. Communicate Transparently: Open, honest communication helps prevent misunderstandings and builds trust. Keep your team informed about changes and challenges, reduce the element of surprise that can lead to chaos.
3. Foster a Collaborative Environment: Encourage teamwork and inclusivity. Value diverse perspectives and create an atmosphere where everyone feels safe to share their ideas and concerns.
4. Be Consistent: Consistency in your actions and decisions builds trust and reliability. It ensures your team knows what to expect and can rely on you for stability.
5.Develop Emotional Intelligence: Work on your empathy and interpersonal skills. Understanding and addressing your team’s emotional needs can prevent conflicts and reduce stress within the workplace.
6.Prioritize Conflict Resolution: Address issues promptly and fairly. Avoid letting tensions build until they explode. Equip your team with effective conflict resolution strategies through regular training.
7. Create a Supportive Culture: Promote a culture of support and recognition. Celebrate success, provide constructive feedback, and offer help during challenging times. A positive culture can mitigate the damage caused by unforeseen challenges.

A tornado leader, much like a natural tornado, brings destruction and fear. However, by focusing on self-awareness, transparent communication, and fostering a collaborative and supportive environment, leaders can avoid becoming storms of chaos within their organizations. In the face of the inevitable storms that come your way, whether in nature or in business, navigate challenges with resilience and unity.

The cyclone derives its power from a calm center. So does a person. Norman Vincent Peale