Leader in Name Only = L.I.N.O. reloaded

  Nov 16, 2014

            I first wrote this article in 2011.   I am revisiting it because I continue to see way too much leader abandonment on the job or as and when the leader does intervene it is for correction or redirection. Encouragement, support, acknowledgement, praise just does not seem to be a regular part of the conversation. Leaders tell me they are way too busy with work that comes for them to do, to use precious time to have “non-essential” conversations with others.   

          I saw a employee only 2 weeks on the job and in the organization receive an email from the manager indicating that the employee had made an error by asking questions to support departments about a new initiative being taken in the department.  The employee’s manager interpreted the questions as non-support for the new project and non-support for the manager personally.

Besides being disconcerting for the employee only two weeks on the job there was no opportunity given by the manager to discuss what was truly and “interpretation” about questions asked and it caused the employee to be a lot more cautious about seeking out information from others needed to get the job done. One can easily see that this new caution will use time, naked resources, and some of the full strength of the employee. A chilling learning environment for sure

            I am sure many of readers know leaders who do not do real leading.  According to Ken Blanchard there are at least 4 activities a leader needs to be diligent about: goal setting, encouraging towards the goals, redirecting towards the goals, and recognizing progress towards the goals. Humm, seems reasonable enough, yet how many “leaders” do not do these 4 intuitively obvious tasks? In my story above the manager did not “redirect” the learner by first gaining clarity with the employee about what the employee was doing and then further exploring optimal behavior for the employee that would assist in getting the job done.

1.      I see too many leaders where the “goal” is the perpetuation of the status quo. There is not even an effort to do things a little bit better, let alone, substantially better. I suppose this seems OK or even “good” if the next level of management has been silent or rewarding it.

2.      Some leaders have set modest goals but there is little to no emphasis to accomplish the goal. They have gone beyond delegation and into abandonment or abdication of their legitimate responsibility as leader. Funny, enough some employees seize the opportunity of abandonment, so that the abdication leadership almost appears to work. Or, there is just enough prodding done to the leader from the rank and file that the “goal” gets done. Of course, a goal that can be achieved without much leader emphasis will be a goal of limited value to the organization. So sad. In the story above the employee was left alone to determine how to move forward with the goal. No specific directions were given to this brand new employee.

3.      Have you seen a leader who is good at the rah rah in the meeting but little to no support during the day to day action? If you go to the leader to seek support you get one of those scary stares that is wondering “how could you not know the answer to that question”. Of course you know the answer, you are there to seek encouragement that you are on exactly the right path that will solve the problem and also “please” the manager. Oh by the way, the leader does not help in the situation but leaves you to your best ideas without confirmation: “I am sure you can do it.”

           Make a resolution for yourself that you, when you are the lead influencer, will engage with the team to insure they knows

  • what is expected (the goal),
  • that the goal is worthy of the team,
  • that the team is encouraged along the path,
  • redirected when they stray,
  • and celebrated when they succeed.

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