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!

5 Ways That Processes Protect You from Losing!

Years ago, I coached boys and girls middle school basketball.  We would run structured offenses and defenses and set plays that we practiced for hours over and over again.  Girls, for the most part, ran the offenses with surgical precision.  Boys, on the other hand, typically were sloppier.   It took time for me to get “buy in” from them- to see that the plays really worked and the power in following the rules of the offense.  See, most of the boys felt they were already basketball stars, so when they had an open shot, they took it.  Three point line, even further!  We worked hard to get them to make the extra pass and get the lay-up or easy inside shot instead of taking the long shot from the outside hoping that it goes in.

Basketball Hoop

I remember calling for time out during the games when the boys would get out of the offense over and over again.  I would tell them if they continued to freelance outside of the offense and play “streetball” that I could not help them win the game.  They were on their own.  I couldn’t tell what the defense was doing or how to attack the other team’s weakness when they were out of the order of the offense.  They might win or they might not.  The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t help them. 

I became a spectator, instead of a coach.

Anything could happen and all I could do is watch.

The same is true with business processes.  As you may have guessed, I am a big believer in solid business processes.  Following a structured process will keep you out of trouble and give you dependable results.  In the construction business, we follow strict processes in most areas.  We have written processes and procedures to guide our projects and what we do as a company.  Processes provide the following advantages and protections:

Filters out Most Common Pitfalls:  A good set of processes and procedures will help to avoid most common problems and issues.  The design of the process forces you to think through the needed steps and formulate a plan that addresses all of the common problems.

Plug and Play:  Solid processes allow you to easily switch up personnel.  If all of your work is accomplished in the same manner, you can move personnel from one project to another and they can pick up the work without loosing a beat.  You can use your bench!

You Can Watch The Weak Areas:  Strong processes will identify areas of weakness where you need to place your focus and resources.  Instead of watching everything, you can concentrate on the areas of weakness and let the process do the work on the majority of the work.

They Give You Power:  If you follow the prescribed process then you have the power of the entire company behind you.  You are not on your own.  If the process does not provide an acceptable result then the issue is the process, not you or your efforts.  Failing to use the process puts you on your own, without support.  You are playing streetball!

Provide Expected Steps and Results:  With structured processes you never have to question what is next.  You follow the plan to the finish.  At every step you know where you are and where you are going.  The process is familiar.  You do it over and over again.  You notice problems.  You make changes.  You are a coach not a spectator!

Don’t overlook structured processes as a method for improving your business.  Every part of your business process should be examined and documented.  I have had great results through the years making the effort to solidify our construction and management processes.  If we make a mistake it costs us big!  We rely on systems and processes to protect us. 

Standardizing processes and procedures will make a powerful impact on your business.  Get in the game!  Guide your team and stop being a spectator.  You will see that, with strong processes, everyone is a winner!

So what do you think?  Do you have a time when processes protected you?  Press “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!