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How a Leader’s Behavior Affects Team Members

How a Leader’s Behavior Affects Team Members

When I worked at Countrywide/Bank of America, I worked under one of the harshest middle-managers in the company. My boss Rhonda was known throughout the company as a stickler to the rules who chose manuals and numbers over people. I spent a lot of time with her behind closed doors, working on priority projects that remained hidden from the average worker—I sat behind the curtains of Oz, helping to operate the gears and pulleys of one of the largest fraudulent machines in human history. How Rhonda convinced an honest and hardworking man to lend a hand in perpetrating widespread financial crimes for the largest bank in the United States illustrated to me how a leader’s behavior affects team members.

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    Trickle Down Effect

    When left to my own devices, I’m a good-natured, mild-mannered person; I never wish anyone any intentional harm. I was really a really good student in school, but I never really had much passion for anything in life. I loved music, but I was turned off to the industry. I ended up working in the mortgage industry for a subsidiary of Countrywide Home Loans. Having only rented up until that point, I didn’t know much about the company I started my career with.

    The atmosphere at Countrywide leading up to their bankruptcy and the subsequent financial crisis was interesting—everyone threw money around like it was water. There were expensive dinners, bonuses, and perks given to everyone. We were a well-oiled machine, and everyone was all smiles. This is because executives were making a killing at the expense of the American public. This led to bonuses and corporate spending accounts being handed out to middle-management, keeping them happy with what they do. On the bottom of the corporate ladder, temps and entry-level schmucks were forced to carry out the marching orders, oblivious that behind the shiny surface lay a mountain of deceit.

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    Whistle While You Work

    After discovering the systematic fraud inherent in both Countrywide and Bank of America’s business dealings, I decided to blow the whistle internally. This led to me losing my management position: I was no longer acting like the leader I was groomed to be by my leader. When I was strict and followed my barking orders from upper-management, I was seen as a golden child; a role model for other employees to emulate. I had been promoted from entry-level to management by drinking the company Kool-Aid, and by blowing the whistle, I was no longer wanted in that position.

    Soon afterward, I found myself moved to another side of the building, being handed impossible assignments with overdue deadlines. I made the decision then and there that I couldn’t handle throwing my life away at the expense of a frivolous attempt at exposing financial fraud; I wanted to take down the entire corrupt bank. I quit my job and started my journey as a solo whistleblowerthe type you see on the news. I was no longer in an official position of power, yet I displayed leadership skills, however unintentionally, and the effects were noticeable.

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    The Leader and The First Follower

    While being a leader is important, Derek Sivers explains in this TED talk that it’s actually the first follower who’s important. When I left the bank and became an official whistleblower, I was nothing more than a lone nut; nobody was following me. I had a Jerry Maguire moment where nobody was coming with me, and I knew better than to ask. I was temporarily stripped of all followers, and my leadership prowess was removed… or so the banks thought.

    After leaving the bank and facing their retaliation protocols (including facing the police on numerous occasions to prove my innocence from false charges filed by the bank), my tech background compelled me to seek out the hacktivist group Anonymous. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the power of Anon, but they believed in me and became my first follower. Because of their support, I was able to leak important documents and help start the Occupy movement.

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    Takeaways

    The moral of the story is that followers will emulate their leaderor more precisely, they’ll emulate the first follower, who follows the leader. Your attitude as a leader will trickle down to your followers, and the way you treat your subordinates is the way they’ll treat those who work below them. The number of possible layers of that depends on how nice you are. Eventually it reaches a point where people won’t tolerate abuse, and you better hope you’re well-defended by then.

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    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

    How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

    How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

    Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

    Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

    Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

    But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

    Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

    Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

    What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

    As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

    What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

    Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

    Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

    Types of Career Changes at 50+

    There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

    Industry Career Change

    In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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    With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

    An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

    This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

    Functional Career Change

    A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

    For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

    In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

    Double Career Change

    This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

    An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

    When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

    With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

    Entrepreneurial Career Change

    Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

    After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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    By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

    Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

    A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

    Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

    So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

    1. Deal with the Fear

    As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

    If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

    I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

    It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

    2. Know Your “Why”

    It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

    Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

    3. Be Realistic

    Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

    This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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    Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

    4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

    Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

    An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

    The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

    5. Update Your Skills

    Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

    The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

    Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

    6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

    Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

    Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

    Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

    Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

    7. Overhaul Your Resume

    Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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    When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

    Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

    8. Know Your Timeline

    There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

    Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

    There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

    Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

    Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

    And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

    Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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