During one of our recent webinars, one of our attendees posed this question: “How do you handle those in management positions who push down future leaders because of their own personal agenda to be promoted?”
We’d all love to think this type of manager only exists in Hollywood movies, but sadly it’s probably more the rule than the exception. Especially in organizations with limited individual accountability. Like large companies where individuals fade into the burled woodwork. Or in bureaucratic organizations like hospitals or government agencies.
However, in high performance organizations, this type of leader is incredibly short-sighted. High performance companies require results. The level of results generated only by highly effective teams. These teams are made up of employees who simply don’t work for leaders they don’t trust.
Recently, we worked with a company struggling with many of the same problems Cynthia McCauley (a senior fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership) identifies as symptoms of a company lacking leadership.
Do any of these symptoms exist within your organization? Consider executing an anonymous employee engagement survey to help you identify problem areas. This is where we started with our new client.
The executive team had had previous conversations with their employees and managers. As expected, everything seemed to be perfect. So why was there still inertia? Seated across from you, employees will tell you what they think you want to hear, but when they’ve been guaranteed anonymity, the real truth comes out.
We discovered 26% of their managers felt unprepared to transition into management roles. They were afraid to admit it, feeling it revealed some sort of personal weakness. They made some assumptions about what being a leader meant. Many enforced their own agendas through threats and intimidation. They failed to lead by example. They executed their management roles well, but their teams were inefficient. As Peter Drucker famously stated that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
It wasn’t entirely their fault. They did what they THOUGHT leaders were supposed to do. They didn’t realize that leadership can be taught. There are natural leaders, of course, but most leaders are created. Our client’s managers had not received any leadership training. They had been trained on how to execute their job, but not their role.
Effective leaders work constantly to improve through education, self-study, training, experience and coaching. It’s a process, not a seminar. For our client, we implemented trainings, but, more importantly, coached them through real-life scenarios so they could learn through applied examples. As a result, their leadership learned:
Remarkably, this actually comes naturally for most of the leaders we train. Certainly, habits can be deeply embedded and hard to change, but these habits are based on decades old perceptions of how a leader is supposed to act. Caring for their employees is far more natural. And far more effective for highly effective companies.