Abrasive Executives: A New Perspective

Abrasive Executives: A New Perspective

by Jordan Goldrich, MCEC

This is a different and perhaps provocative perspective on leaders who are experienced as abrasive. Most people who write about these executives or work with them call them names like bully, jerk, hyena, narcissist, toxic or the term in the (New York Times?) best seller, The No Asshole Rule. Would you agree that calling people demeaning names because you want them to be more respectful is ironic if not hypocritical?

In my experience working with these executives, I have found that most of them do not want to hurt people. In most cases, they have a warrior spirit. They get results in seemingly impossible situations with a work ethic that accepts nothing less than always giving their all. They are always goal focused, drive for results, demand discipline and hold everyone accountable…relentlessly. Even above average performers may wonder where they get the energy to keep going.

Doing and being the best, achieving and serving are so important to them, that they experience poor performance, laziness, and dishonesty as a personal attack. They respond defensively in a way others experience as disrespectful. Most are shocked when they learn the impact they are having on others.

My view is that we should honor their warrior spirit, value their contribution and challenge them to become better warriors. That means leading with humility and protecting others who cannot protect themselves among other things.

I believe these are high performing, yet imperfect human beings . . . just like all of us.

What is your opinion?


Jordan Goldrich leverages his background as a Chief Operations Officer and Master Corporate Executive Coach (MCEC), to partner with senior executives to drive results while developing their organizations, teams and the next generation of leaders. Jordan is the author of the forthcoming book, People Skills For The No-BullSh*t Executive: the least you can do. He specializes in helping valuable executives who are experienced as abrasive to increase their effectiveness while changing their impact. Jordan is a partner in CUSTOMatrix as well as Senior Talent Management

Management Executive with Executive Core and Senior Executive Coach with the Center for Creative Leadership.