THE LEADER IN THE MIRROR

Robert E. Wood

To find a potential leader in an organization, we usually do not have to go very far. Just about the time you think there aren’t any candidates to fill a leadership position, a guy like me comes along and tries to help you see the not-so-obvious. Leaders are all around us, they just have to be proactively sought out and developed. A shortage of leaders is more often than not due to a shortage of leadership and training. Not everyone can look in the mirror and readily see the leader within even though the reflection could build a great deal of influence if properly coached.

Some leaders didn’t even know they were a leader until someone else enlightened them to the fact, then all of the sudden the unwitting leader begins to focus on his/her teammate’s actions and response to his/her approach. This is the usual progression from someone who was satisfied with their current situation, then is offered an opportunity to take on a larger role in the organization.

When we say a leader’s job is to make more leaders, it’s because leaders aren’t natural born; they’re trained to help others recognize and develop their true potential. Most people, who accidentally do something great, get credit and some positive reinforcement from a leader; usually feel good enough to want to do it again. This is the beginning of the shift to greater influence.

I would rather mentor a multi-disciplined employee who has proven their commitment to the success of the organization over someone with a degree or skill. A degree doesn’t prove competence or commitment and skills can be taught. A leadership team that is focused on reinvesting in their own employees will find more of those employees recognizing the leader in the mirror.

Advertisements

3 Big Problems with Your Managers

Accountability, Goal Setting, and Professional Development. That’s it, very simple to identify and equally important across all professions.  Having great first-level managers and supervisors are the most important positions you can have.  They have a difficult job in trying to translate the organization’s vision & mission into tangible task the employees can accomplish.  Not only that, but they must hold the line of accountability of the employees, support the values of the organization, inspire their people to achieve excellence, and develop and train their replacements. It is a daunting task, so let’s look at how to improve the big three!

Accountability is the foundation a manager operates on.  There are tons of articles and research on this topic, but the bottom line is most managers are rated poor at holding their people accountable.  Accountability starts at the top!  The only way to get better at this is to ensure you are holding people accountable.  It will trickle down from there.  Make accountability the manager and supervisor’s core responsibility.  You must evaluate them on how well they hold people accountable.  Teach them when they make mistakes and let them figure things out.

Goals.  So often we talk about goals and how important they are, yet we fail to identify them or worse, identify them but make them impossible to achieve or measure.  It is not always easy to establish goals.  Goals of perfection are a bad idea.  Do not use them.  Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.”  I believe what he means is if you spend too much time on perfection you waste resources that could be used elsewhere to move from 99 to 99.1.  If they were utilized properly, perhaps you could improve another area from 70 to 90%.  See this article about perfection for more reasons why Perfection is Dumb.  Being good enough and not expecting perfection will drive your organization to great success.

Professional Development. The goal of this website is to provide professional development for everyone who wishes to pursue it.  In your organization, there may be little interest in professional development, but you should make it worthwhile. Outside of producing quality content that is, in itself worthwhile, the leaders of the organization need to tie rewards to attending professional development.  It cannot be mandatory but must be highly encouraged.  Tying it to performance evaluations, bonuses, and awards will give it the importance it deserves and will begin to change the culture of the organization to where it values it intrinsically.

One thing to note is that all three of these subjects must be worked on simultaneously.  Working on them independently in a vacuum will not bring about the results you are looking for.  They complement each other and feed off one another.  To maximize the effects, they must be considered a single item with three parts.

Follow us on all platforms! LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

To Fire or Not to Fire!

How many of your employees to you supervisors want to fire? The answer; more often than you think.  Your supervisors are most likely writing your employees up and turning it into HR or to the managers.  And if they are not writing people up it is because of one of two reasons.  You either have a smaller organization with great employees and a solid culture, or you are in a larger organization and your supervisors have given up on your ability to take action on the paperwork they spend time doing.

When a supervisor takes the time to do the right thing and document the poor performance of an employee, they are expecting the HR or management team to back them up.  The worst thing that can happen is to have you do nothing.  This sends a message to the employees that there is no accountability and that the supervisor does not have any real power.  A supervisor without the ability to document performance and use it as a tool to get the employees in line with the organizational values is like being stuck in the middle of a fight between your spouse and your best friend.  There is no way out, and they cannot win.  The employee will continue with the destructive behavior and the supervisor will either quit or give up and be resigned to accepting the low standard.

Supervisors have a grueling job to do.  Not only must they understand the work that must be done, but they also must know what the managers what and how to translate those desires and directions into actual tasks the employees can execute against.  Do your best to remember your time as a supervisor and how difficult it was to have to deal with a poor performer, especially a confident poor performer.  Letting the supervisor face these challenges alone will kill your organization.

If you help your supervisors hold the standard by supporting them when they need it, you will rarely be in a position to need to find new employees.  Happy employees will find other great employees for you, and your turnover rate will be low.  But unhappy employees combined with supervisors that have given up will also find new hires, but bad new hires.  The big difference is you now have a low turnover rate with employees that have low standards and an organization with a damaging culture.  It’s hard to sustain and you will find yourself in a never-ending cycle trying to deal with problems in the processes and personnel issues.

The final word here is to have your supervisors’ back and teach them when they make mistakes. Even at the cost of some lower-level employees.

Follow us on all platforms! LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

MANAGER IN DISGUISE?

Robert E. Wood

I’ve roughly defined a “Manager in Disguise” as someone who’s in a position of authority (leadership position) which gives them the opportunity to help steer an organization and influence others but also has no apparent leadership skills, knows it and yet still refuses to step down for the greater good. I’m often asked, why would the people in leadership positions in any organization allow such incompetence to exist and/or continue? Well, the answer to that question is: The Manager in Disguise’s boss is also a Manager in Disguise. There’s no other explanation. Just because someone is at the top of the organizational chart, doesn’t mean they’re the right person to occupy the position.

Unlike Managers in Disguise, leaders aren’t natural born; they’re created by other leaders. We all start out as managers of our own world, we teach ourselves what we can (which is limited) and then one day we show a little potential and someone takes an interest in us which leads to other opportunities. Most people welcome a promotion to a leadership position because that’s viewed as a step up on the ladder of financial success. I’ve got news for you, without a true leader teaching you how to lead and you listening, you’ll find the ladder you’re on leads to dysfunction without success. Without actual leadership training, everyone will notice that you have been promoted to your level of incompetence. The question is; what are you going to do about it? If you choose to seek out formal leadership advice and training over just continuing on with what you taught yourself, you just might find real success.

The perceptions that are attached to a leadership position like more money, influence and real power are only realized by “those who make the most of the opportunity.” The potential we possess is directly tied to our passion for a given position and/or situation. The potential we display for one position might not be enough for another and when left unchecked or more importantly, noticed and unchecked, Managers in Disguise are born. A shortage of leaders is more often than not due to a shortage of leadership. A true leader will promote and train someone with the potential for a given position and then monitor that person through perception and performance feedback from the teams. Unlike a Manager in Disguise, a leader will not allow an unsuccessful promotion to continue because it’s not healthy for the one who was promoted, the team, the organization or the customers.

Too Busy? How to Find Goldilocks!

I hear so many people talk about how busy they are.  It is constant.  Each new task, each new problem, the same response every time, “I’m too busy to add more to my plate!” We’ve all heard it and might be true in some cases, but other times it’s just hyperbole.  It seems like the cool thing to say as a manager, that you are the busiest and have no time for anything else.  That you are overworked and many other descriptions of the same thing.

The problem is being busy is a bad thing.  How can you or your organization be agile and be able to adjust to meet demand if you are so busy?  A great quote I read once is “You can’t be too busy mopping the floor, to shut off the faucet.”  So being busy is just an exercise in priorities.  Sometimes you won’t have the option of what to do or which priorities you have, but you can always discuss it.  When you are in a position to determine your priorities, it is all about doing what is important for the organization to be successful.

So, how does an organization do this?  There need to be deliberate discussions about what is and what is not a priority.  Hopefully, the items determined to be a priority align with the organizational goals.  If they do not align, then this is a good indicator you have either the wrong goals or the wrong priorities.

Achieving a balance is needed because cleaning the bathroom might not be an organizational priority that will align with an organizational goal, if it is not done regularly, nasty things will happen. This is where the problems begin because at some point everything will become a priority.  What you end up with is managers not being able to distinguish priorities for their work.

Look at the typical tasks you are required to complete and build priority groups.  Doing so will help the members of the organization responsible for creating a suspense for these tasks a way to determine how long to give the group to respond.  You might create five priority groups that your organization can assign tasks to, then when something is a low priority, people won’t ask for a same-day turnaround.

Take, for example, a low priority task like providing the IT department the type of paper you use.  This job would easily fall in the lowest priority category.  That category would come with a minimum two weeks completion time, meaning you have two weeks to respond.  If the priority needed to be bumped up, clear and compelling justification would need to be provided.  Once your organization knows how to prioritize, it will be easy to find the balance that is “just right.”

Follow us on all platforms! LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Don’t Abuse the Easy Button!

To an organization and especially to the organization’s leader, a manager is an easy button.  But even though a manager can solve the problem, assigning them tasks meant for others is not the right answer.  In every organization, there are going to be problems that require leaders, management, and supervisors.  The hard part is knowing what the problem is and the right people to put on it.

In an organization I used to be in was having an uptick in accidents.  Mostly damage to equipment, which can be expensive if not addressed.  Many attempts were made to fix this issue with only marginal success.  Because the problem continued, a senior C-suite executive decided to assign the entry level managers “over-watch duty.”  This meant a manager would watch the processes that were having the majority of the costly accidents to ensure all process and protocols were followed.  The additional task of the managers would add about an hour’s worth of work to their schedules each day.  Additionally, they could not dictate where this time would take place as it was spread out throughout their day.

More recently, I heard about another organization that is compliance issues.  These compliance issues are not critical, but there were a few related to safety, which is always serious.  Again, a senior C-suite executive has decided the managers need to build a schedule to have a manager walking around observing processes 24/7.

What these executives have failed to see is that although they are solving the immediate problem, they are losing so much in other areas.  Not only does this tactic destroy trust, but morale, motivation, commitment and other things suffer as well.  And that does not even take into account the work the manager is supposed to be doing that either goes undone, is delayed, or is completed late.  Many managers ended up spending more than an hour after work making up for all the interruptions or the time they weren’t working on their tasks but were “playing big brother” to the people they have charged with actually doing the work.

The issues these organizations faced are not uncommon.  The solution to the problem created a Band-Aid fix but failed to address the root-cause.  The supervisors were not doing what they should have been doing.  There were problems with accountability, training, and discipline.  Unfortunately, these problems still exist because they were never identified and corrected.

The proper response to these issues is to focus on the supervisors.  They need to feel important and worthy.  Micro-managing them has the opposite effect.  All aspects of the supervisors should be evaluated.  From hiring practices and promotion to training, all of these play a fundamental role to how the organization functions.  Supervisors are critical to the success of every organization because they translate directions from managers into tangible tasks for the other employees to work on.  A strong emphasis needs to be placed on their training, so they know what to do.  They need clear guidance on what is expected of them, and they need to be held accountable.  Give them room to make mistakes.  This is going to cost the organization money, but it is money well spent to have unforgettable lessons taught to the supervisor in a real-life setting.

Managers are the easy button, but using an easy button can cause long-lasting damage to the long-term health of the organization.

Follow us on all platforms! LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

MY LEADERSHIP WISH TO ALL GURUS!

Robert E. Wood

 

To all the self-proclaimed “Leadership Gurus,” and there’s a lot of you, that I can tell you. My wish is that you would learn to differentiate leaders from “Managers in Disguise” as leaders. This action will further solidify your must have “Guru” status. Understand, leaders aren’t the source of dysfunction and chaos, it’s the managers in disguise as leaders who are in positions of authority and are lacking the will, desire, and skills needed to be in the leadership position those are the issues here. Not all managers can lead but all leaders can manage. The world needs the words leader and leadership to mean something special, so I’m asking you to stop giving leaders a bad name and begin respecting their use in your communications (Verbal and Written.)

This little act of kindness will put greater emphasis on the acceptance criteria necessary for those positions of authority that drive the business’s direction and have the ability to positively influence many employees. Being “Leadership Gurus” and all, you should already know that having “Managers in Disguise” at the top of the organizational chart is the reason leadership books are written in the first place.  We write these books in an attempt to help organizations see the errors of their ways and offer guidance to help them succeed.

Unlike leaders, managers don’t willingly study subjects such as commitment, accountability, culture change and the principles of leadership; I bet they study business management, not people management. I choose my words carefully when writing about managers and leaders because they both have a place and the need for them both to be in their proper place has never been more important than now. Not having the right people in the right places is the main reason for most of the dysfunction (indirect costs) an organization assumes in the first place. So I ask you please, use your words carefully so as not to take away the value of any one position. For “Gurus” who need more uncommon common sense leadership, visit http://www.leadersindisgust.com/ or follow me on Twitter at #leadersndisgust and feel free to expand your knowledge of this subject at no charge. All I request is action on your part.