Weak Leader?

 

Great companies have a common characteristic. They have strong leaders. But what is strong leadership? I think if you ask ten different persons you will get ten different answers! I think an obvious sign of a strong leader is they generally have a group of very dedicated followers who understand their role in the overall vision for the company. I don’t believe that strong leadership is characterized by the volume of their bark or purely the degree at which they drive their team forward.  Being strong doesn’t mean being feared or intimidating.  

But what happens when you have a weak leader? A leader that struggles at making decisions or providing vision or hitting deadlines? Is this a sign that they don’t have the tools to lead? Although these and other signs may be a function of overall weakness, it may not be their fault. You may be the problem. You may be the barrier to their leadership strength. Here are a few ways you may be weakening the leaders below you.

Changing Work Priorities

You have placed this person in a leadership role in order to use their judgement on managing the staff and prioritizing assignments.  If you are directing their staff to complete items that you think have a higher priority without consulting them first you are undermining their authority.  This is sending a message to the team that your leader is not capable of prioritizing correctly and that they are incapable and you need to get involved.  The real reason may be that you have a control problem. If you must change priorities for the team, follow the organizational chart and stay in the chain of command.  Don’t manage folks just because you can.

Gossip

If you are having issues with a report and you are running your mouth to other folks in the organization, the gossip will obviously be damaging to that person’s credibility.  And you may be just plain wrong.  Don’t assume you have it all figured out.  Keep your mouth shut and go to the person and discuss your issues.  Give them an opportunity to explain and rebut your assumptions. Gossip is never the answer. 

Different Management Styles

Don’t assume that another person‘s management style is weak just because it’s not the same as the way you manage or lead.  The measurement is the results.  Is this person doing their job as a leader?  Are the folks that they are leading engaged and performing properly?

Fuzzy Or Changing Goals

Have you been completely clear about what the goals are and what items are most important?  Do you change the priorities often?  If the person is unsure or in a constant state of flux, how can you hold them responsible for anything?  Provide clear objectives and be consistent.

Competition

Do you feel that this person is a threat to you?  This may sound strange since they are actually below you in the organizational chart.  Does this person intimidate you?  Are they sometimes more knowledgeable in some areas.  Do they just grind you?  Do they have a great following in the workplace?  This should be all positive, however some folks can be very insecure, have big egos or are narcissistic and will fight you or anyone else to “win”.  Just remember that you are both on the same team!  Showcase your talent and let your people grow in influence.  Don’t hold them down.  When they grow and prosper, you grow and prosper too!

Undermining Authority

Do you allow folks to come directly to you instead of their direct report?  This can be a situation where “If dad says no, go ask mom!”  Don’t provide direction or approve a decisions downstream.  Always push them back into the chain of command.  By directly managing people downstream you are undermining their authority.  You are directly weakening their leadership.

I am sure there are more examples of this kind of behavior that destroys the strength of their leadership.  If you want strong leaders, it is up to you to empower them!  Support them by respecting the chain of command and the organizational chart.  Give them all the tools they need to be successful.  Do not direct their people even if you are the owner of the company.  Support them in front of the rest of the company.  If you have issues with them, discuss the issues privately.  Respect them and their work and they will grow in strength and effectiveness.   Quite often the true “weak leader” is the person you see in the mirror!

Have you experienced this before?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!

Don’t Do This When People Make Mistakes

We all screw up sometime.  Maybe a careless moment or a poor evaluation of the circumstance.  There are consequences when mistakes are made.  I have been “blessed” many times with being clean-up crew when there is a big mess that needs to be cleaned up.

The fact is mistakes are how we learn.  I have really come to realize this as I have gotten older and gained more experience. There are so many times I get that “deja vu” feeling because I am in a similar circumstance I’ve been before and I remember the proper way to navigate out of it.  Experience is huge and you can’t always make up for it.

I have watched mistakes happen and I have watched how various leaders handle the problem.  There is one thing that I have learned that never seems to work in fixing a mess.  This is using blame.

When you are in the midst of fixing a bad situation the worst thing you can do is to immediately go to blame.  There is a time and a place to analyze and discuss the failures that led to the problem, but going to blame will only magnify the issue.

You will likely isolate the person who messed up.

They will feel that it was all their fault.

They will feel attacked.

They will not be in an effective position to help you fight your way out of the mess.

When one of your reports messes up its for a reason, in the vast majority of cases, the person responsible for the screw up is the person you see in the mirror.  They were not trained properly.  They were overwhelmed and you should have provided help. They weren’t ready for the assignment.  They didn’t have the proper resources.  It’s not them- it’s you!

So why are we quick to blame?  It’s our own ego and pride response.  We blame to protect ourselves.  Protect our perfect standing.  It couldn’t be me?  I did everything right!

After the dust settles and emotions die down, then you can take a look at the mistakes that were made.  The only way for learning is to confront the mistakes that were made and make changes so they don’t happen again.  This is the learning experience.  This is life.  The best lessons are learned out of pain.  It’s not fun- but it’s true.  When you have a mess, concentrate on clean up.  Jump in and help make it right.  Then, after things are fixed, take a good look at what happened and fix the problem.  Time to heal allows for objectivity and reflection.

Stay away from blame.  When you feel like you need to play the blame card- STOP AND THINK- about your role in the problem and understand what you are really doing when you blame.  A great leader will accept responsibility.  They understand that they are not perfect.  They are emotionally mature enough to know that they can make mistakes sometimes and they accept the failures of their reports.

Jump in and fix the problem.  Keep your mouth shut.  Talk about what happened later.

So what do you think?  Have you worked with a “blamer” before?  Do you see the connection between blame and pride?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

Cleaning the Toilets

There are always the unpleasant jobs. The jobs that don’t bring you any accolades. The ones that are not seen. The unpleasant jobs that have no reward. Who does those jobs?

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Few will do those jobs. I have been doing the tough jobs since my father taught me what work is really all about. The hard and hot and nasty jobs. I learned that hard work will not kill you. I often do the jobs that nobody even notices. Why do I do it?

Because it needs to be done. Because nobody else will. And if I don’t do them, then it will only get worse. The dirt, repair, stain, pile, problem…will only get bigger. And when I finish- nobody will notice much. They won’t know how hard you worked to get it done. They won’t know what it took to complete the task. But I will notice. And I know that I have headed off a major project by noticing the need and taking care of it. Yet…

I will not get any response.

No atta boys.

I will not get an ego boost from others.

Nobody will tell me that I am sweet, caring, or thoughtful.

Nobody will even notice that the work has been done- except me.

We just don’t have many folks that will clean the toilets anymore. Everything has to have a reward. Everything has to result in the your world telling you that you are amazing. A hero. That your incredible. That you have a big heart. That your just so special.

What will we do when the toilet cleaners are gone? I can tell you. Things will get dirty. And things will not get done. And the others will wonder what happened. They will talk about the problem. They will complain about the situation. They will tell their friends. They will try to talk it to death.

But it won’t get done without a toilet cleaner. I hope that there will be some around. The folks that “do” instead of “talk”. The folks that aren’t afraid to do a task without an ego lifting pat on the back. The unnoticed. The toilet cleaners.

Have you really examined your motivations? Are you really only feeding your ego in your work, service and actions? Do you complete work simply because it needs to be done? Or is everything motivated by getting something back? Let me know if you “get this” by clicking on “Like”.  Or click “Leave a Comment”and tell me what you think!

Me First

I hate to wait in lines. I don’t know why, but long lines just really irritate me. If I walk into a restaurant at lunch and the line is long, I’ll go back to work hungry and just skip lunch!

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Except for the line thing, I am generally very patient. I understand that sometimes to get quality it just takes time. There is no way around it. I wish everyone else felt that same way. Unfortunately, our instant everything, super fast, efficiency driven, want it yesterday world feeds this impatience. We want it now. We don’t want to wait.

A very wise woman once told me that the root of impatience is really self-centeredness and pride. You want everyone to drop everything they are doing and serve you. It’s like taking cuts in that lunch line. You don’t want to wait your turn. You want them to rearrange their schedules to make you first. So impatience is more that just a characteristic or just “my thing”. It’s much deeper.

After she shared this with me I could see the connection. When I get frustrated with the long line, I am saying that I should not have to wait in the line. It’s OK for everyone else, but not for me.

How do you avoid being that impatient person? How can you manage people without being “me first” all the time? Here are some ideas:

Clearly define the time constraints. If you need something done quickly then communicate the reasons for the rush. If you can’t really describe significant reasons to reorder priorities then it may just be a me first situation.

Consider the workload. Ask your report what they currently have on their plate. Don’t assume that they are in a position to drop everything they are doing to address your needs. Work together to help prioritize the item so that you are both comfortable with the schedule.

Quality takes time. Let’s face it. If you want quality work, it will take time. A rushed job will always show it. Give the person ample time to produce quality work. It’s a win win situation. You will get better work and they will feel better about what they produced.

Provide resources. As you are delegating tasks make sure they have sufficient resources to do the work. if they are are short on resources, then it will always take more time than it should. Ask your report if they need anything to get the job done efficiently and according to your schedule.

Consider the costs. There are always trade-offs in time management. If you are busy taking care of a special project for your boss, you cannot be doing your regular work at the same time. When you delegate, make sure that you are targeting the right person who has the time to be pulled from their regular work without serious damage to your operation. Fight the urge to further load up your workhorse employee who never says no. You will likely be overloading your best employee!

Yes, you are the boss and you can make them drop everything to take care of your special task. But is this really the right thing to do? Or is it just your pride and ego driving the boat. Next time your “me first” kicks in, remember that your stuff may not be the most important thing on their to-do list. Your reports are paid to think and prioritize. There are obviously other tasks and assignments that they are working on and they must also be completed! Maybe it’s time that you take a number and get in line!

Have you worked for a “me first” boss before? Do you struggle with waiting for your tasks to be completed? is patience your weakness? Hit “Like” if you can relate or click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!