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!

Playing the Game

I’m not a big TV guy.  However, on occasion, I have followed some of the TV show “Survivor” seasons.  I think the draw for me is the struggle with the environment more than the personalities.  Dealing with a deserted island or braving the harsh environment is more appealing than the chatter, deceit and alliances.

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One thing that has intrigued me about the show is how they refer to the struggle of competing and surviving as “playing the game”.  From my vantage it seems like more than a game.  Trying to survive in a desolated area, hungry, thirsty, doesn’t seem like a game to me.  I know- Hollywood is always there to rush in and save you if it gets too real!

So what is playing the game?  How do you win at Survivor?  You win by manipulation.

You know what you want.

You know how to get others to respond so you can get it.

You put the wheels in motion.

You get what you want!

Remember the great and powerful OZ?  The man on the levers behind the curtain?  This is how some view leadership.  You have the position and power and you know how to influence others to get you what you want.  I wish I could tell you otherwise, but this strategy often works.

And it’s a shame.  You can play with their heads.  You can apply pressure.  You can grab the levers.  The difference is that you will likely get what you want- but nothing more.

The real difference is found when you get more than you could imagine.  Much more than you thought possible.  How does this happen?

Rather than manipulate you inspire.  You loosen the reins and give your team the power to run.  The power to innovate.  The power to let those who do the work determine how is best to accomplish the task.

Inspiration is not intuitive.  We default to defining, controlling, manipulating.  Fear, tradition, and resistance to change will hold you back.  To inspire you need to model the behavior.  You need to believe in what you are doing.  You need to paint the picture for your group. You need to excite your group to march with you and you must march with them.

So what’s holding you back?  Are you stuck in default mode?  Are you ready to inspire rather than manipulate?  Here are some keys:

Define the goal:  Provide a clear understanding of the goal that you are trying to accomplish.  Why are you striving to make this happen?  What is the ultimate purpose of all of the work?

Personalize it:  Define the rewards for those who participate in the success.  What will I receive if we make this happen?  What is my piece of the pie?

Add milestones:  Give some intermediate goals to show progress.  This is the same reason you see landings on stairs.  A spot to rest and reflect for a minute.  A place to measure just how far you have come.

Unleash creativity:  Provide an environment where creativity is encouraged.  Let go of the wheel and let the team members determine how they will solve problems to reach success.

Celebrate accomplishments:  Have a victory celebration when you reach success.  Give credit to those who made it happen.  Acknowledge the efforts of your team and the roles that each played in the success of the project.  Give the credit to those who actually performed the work.

Inspiration provides an environment for exponential growth opportunities.  Are you taking full advantage of this power?  Or are you stuck in the command and control management style?  Maybe it’s time for you to step away from the levers?  Give inspiration a try.  It’s much better that way!

What do you think?  Do you know any manipulators who get away with it?  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!