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.

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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.

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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.

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.

THE INADVERTENT GIFT FROM MILLENNIALS TO CORPORATE AMERICA

The gift I’m seeing is: a focus on the lack of real leadership in America. Millennials have been getting a bad rap for some time now. This deception and disinformation about millennials is mainly driven by the “Managers in Disguise” or executive members of the C team if you will, who are at the top of some organizational charts. These are the people in organizations who have obtained enough influence in the workplace to create the perception that millennials are bad for business. These Managers in Disguise are fighting tooth and nail to deflect all issues onto millennials in a pathetic attempt to hide their own leadership ignorance and incompetence.

I’m going to step out on a limb and say, millennials aren’t the problem, poor management is the problem. Millennials haven’t been around for centuries, poor management has. Millennials are a new challenge to a very old cultural management problem and it’s my belief that the millennials way of conducting themselves is going to expose the lack of real leadership problem in such a way that it will have to be investigated by real leaders. Of course, this investigation will in many cases be driven entirely by profits and not by principles but that’s ok for now, as long as it’s addressed. True leaders in each market will recognize and address the Managers in Disguise issue and in doing so will benefit from a larger market share due to their competitors’ unwillingness to change.

The general consensus is that millennials (Generation Y) are a difficult generation to manage which means, turning a profit with a bus full of millennials will be equally as difficult. It’s my position that every generation wants the same thing, they all want to work for an organization that’s headed in the right direction and they all want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than they already are. I believe Millennials are making a difference in ways not yet seen before; their unwillingness to tolerate Managers in Disguise and the status-quo is restricting corporate profits across America and inadvertently putting the focus on leadership or the lack thereof. I don’t think it could be any timelier if you ask me.

Millennials understand where the leadership gets its power from and that understanding has the Managers in Disguise flustered.  Generation Y has turned the tables on poor management, and through their actions, they have taken away any power over them poor management ever thought they had. If you think about it, organizations with poor management are the same organizations that do not perform exit interviews or have a perception or performance feedback survey program of any sort. Wouldn’t do the Manager in Disguise any justice to have a pile of negative exit interviews and perception feedback surveys lying around that could get caught up in an audit now, would it? Better to not offer them at all is poor management’s mindset.

Millennials are the first generation who is accustomed to getting what they want while Managers in Disguise have been here since the beginning of time and are not accustomed to giving people what they want. The dysfunctional dynamic here is clear. We need to stop buying into the narrative that millennials are bad for society because they’re not. They’re about to change society and possibly the workplace forever. Millennials were raised having their expectations met by helicopter parents and are accustomed to getting everything their parents never had. This is why they have no patience or tolerance for Managers in Disguise as leaders. Millennials would rather quit without notice than deal with a non-value-added confrontation. The high turnover rate associated with generation Y is driven by poor managers and their unwillingness to change with the times, not the young employee whose expectations aren’t being met.

My leadership book MANAGERS IN DISGUISE-LEADERS IN DISGUST addresses these not-so-obvious roadblocks to success and how to avoid them. Employee retention is a key part of all successful organizations and I’ll show you how to accomplish it. I encourage you to visit https://www.leadersindisgust.com/ to continue investing in yourself by reading a few posts or purchasing a book and getting on the road to helping others as I’m attempting to do. The sooner we begin taking advantage of the wonderful gift that millennials are giving us, the sooner more Americans will be happier about going to work.

Your Leader’s Focus is All Wrong!

If you work in an organization that has people in it, your focus as a leader should be on the people first. Not to make them happy, but to do what is right. To develop your people, to train them, to make choices they may not like, but that are for their benefit in the long run. As long as the priority is the people, you will have a great chance of success. The most difficult part, it seems, is what to focus on after the people. This in not to say that even focusing on people is as simple as saying you focus on people. Within that, many philosophies explore this topic in detail. Perhaps you subscribe to Jack Welch’s belief that you concentrate on the top 20% and fire the bottom 10%. Or maybe you believe you need only focus on the bottom 20% in the hopes you can make them great. Either way, it’s best to focus on people first.

Outside of the people of your organization, what is the best area to place your focus? In the military, many ranking individuals have a hard time focusing on the core functions of the organization and instead focus on things that are sometimes, barely even relevant. Managers elevate in importance, dentist appointments, medical readiness, and physical fitness scores because they are easy to track. The problem with this is most of their organization’s managers, and leaders place much needed time and energy on these tasks instead of where they should be focused. Those tasks should align with the core function of the organization. If you are in the supply business, then how your people understand supply-chain, bench-stock levels and many other aspects to supply are incredibly more important than if your average fitness score moves from 84 to 89.

Take a look what your managers are doing and how they spend their time. Two questions you should always ask are: How well does this organization perform its core mission? And how can you prove it? If you turn to your Quality Assurance (QA) function for these stats, you are missing too much data to be very effective. The QA team can be great for identifying problem errors, but should not be sole measuring stick for the organization’s performance.

Don’t be fooled into only asking the above questions once; they will need to be constantly reviewed. Also, be prepared to hear how the organization is not performing as well as you may expect. We have a tendency to think we are doing better than we really are.

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20 TRAITS OF THE MANAGER IN DISGUISE YOU ALREADY KNOW

When good employees leave good organizations, studies show, the number one reason for leaving is poor management. Notice, I mentioned “good employees,” because poor employees thrive in this environment. Even the most principled employee has his or her limit as to how much dysfunction they will put up with before getting off the bus.

An organization’s culture is driven by the amount of dysfunction the people who are in positions of authority/leadership are willing to put up with. Great leaders are so few and far between, it’s common to find “Managers in Disguise” at the top of the organizational chart keeping the organization from reaching its full potential.

A Manager in Disguise:

  1. Does not continually invest in himself or anyone else on the job or off. (Fine with the status-quo)
  2. Yells at employees to force influence. (Rules like he has the same authority as the employee’s parent)
  3. Believes that dressing the part will compensate for lack of leadership talent. (Superficial character)
  4. Doesn’t know what he doesn’t know about leadership. (Believes authority is all he needs to rule)
  5. Believes his affiliations are more important than his accomplishments. (Believes job security depends on how many       friends he has)
  6. Withholds information from employees to use it as power over them later. (Insecure in his position)
  7. Does not hold employees or himself accountable. (Indecisive and unwilling to confront insubordination)
  8. Plays favorites with assignments. (Consistently unfair behavior and choices)
  9. Talks to hear himself talk. (Talks over people with no intent to listen or understand others points of view)
  10. Offers incentives that spur short-term results instead of addressing the real problem which is his/her inability to lead which would add long-term value. (Attempts to buy influence instead of focusing on personal growth and earning influence)
  11.  Regularly takes credit for the quality of someone else’s efforts. (Deliberately refuses to recognize others accomplishments out of fear for his own job)
  12. Seizes every opportunity to grandstand in the presence of the boss. (Continually throws others under the bus to make himself look good)
  13. Set’s others up to fail in front of the bosses to make himself look good. (Master manipulator)
  14. Will never step aside to allow someone else to do what he cannot. (In it for the money, and doesn’t care about anyone else)
  15. Regularly asks others to do what he is not willing to do himself. (Hypocritical behavior)
  16. Asks business questions in front of others that he already has the answers to just so he can correct you when your answers are not the same as his. (Withholds information and the direction for the organization so you do not know the answers to his questions)
  17. Exhibit’s or has exhibited unethical behaviors. (Garners no respect or power)
  18. Does not put forth a quality effort for every hour on the job. (Expects everyone else to though)
  19. Onboard those he deems aren’t a threat to him. (Sophomoric hiring technique)
  20. Doesn’t believe training up his successor is a priority. (Attempting to ensure everyone knows how needed he is when he’s absent)

Lack of dissemination is self-incrimination. It’s my belief that the only answer to the “Manager in Disguise” dilemma is deliberate and proactive mass dissemination of content such as this even when it’s not yours. A leader’s job is to build more leaders, even on social media. This action will help your brand, not hurt it. Allowing employees at all levels of every organization, white collar, blue collar, governmental and private the opportunity to understand what to be on the lookout for and how to address it will make us all stronger.

Managers in Disguise will and are purposefully and aggressively suppressing content such as this in an effort to prolong their reign. It’s unfortunate that most employees will just have to wait for their Manager in Disguise to retire or their organization to get bought out before they have a chance to experience their organization’s true potential.

In this article, I have given you some things to think about and share, in my book MANAGERS IN DISGUISE-LEADERS IN DISGUST; you will find ways to address all of these issues. Get your copy today and help me help you and others.