Without revealing any details about this, I’ve recently spent a total of nearly seven full hours talking one-on-one to employees about the job they feel their supervisors/managers are doing leading them in their work. (A company hired me to seek this feedback).
It was not pretty.
This was a large company, and a very small corner in this very large company. So, one would suspect that this corner was not the only one with the problem. (Although, the problem may be a little more obvious in this corner – thus, the reason they brought me in).
The problem was this: some of the people in positions of leadership weren’t very good at actually leading the people. Oh, the tasks, the work got done. Sometimes in spite of the leaders efforts, or lack thereof. But, the feedback seemed to say that the people in these positions of leadership:
• did not listen to the people they were charged with leading
• did not respond to needs expressed by the people they were leading
• did not pay attention to the career advancement and development needs of the people they were leading.
In fact, one of the comments stated by quite a few of these folks went something like this:
“he (she) cares more about his own success and reputation than he does about the success of the team and the team members.”
In other words, the leader was concerned about his career, his development… he was in it for himself. He was not in it for his team members.
I know this is like a broken record on this blog, but I would like to suggest a new job requirement for every supervisor, manager, department head… every leader of any kind. This leader should be required to read Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner on the weekend before they begin serving in their new position. (If it’s too late for that, make them read it this next weekend). And then, they have to report to their boss how they will implement the teachings from this book in their own department, as they lead their own team members.
I’ve blogged about this book now somewhere around 86,000 times. It is simply the best book I know for people given the task to lead others. Oh, there may be other books about “Leadership” in a bigger picture way. But this book is practical – this is what you do to get the best out of the people that you actually lead, the people you should be interacting with regularly.
Let me remind you of the seven principles of Encouraging the Heart, from the book:
The seven essentials of encouraging
- Set clear standards
- Expect the best
- Pay attention
- Personalize recognition
- Tell the story
- Celebrate together
- Set the example
And, maybe the greatest of these seven is “Pay attention.” Everything stars with how well you pay attention!
Here’s a question: if you do lead others, what would those folks say about you in a candid, anonymous interview about your leadership? If you don’t quite know, then that’s your first problem. If you do know, and you have some people skills, care-about-them deficiencies; if you are not great at a “let’s focus on the team’s success rather than/more than on my personal success” style and approach… if these are the kinds of deficiencies in your leadership — then read this book, and get to work fixing these deficiencies.
People deserve to be led well. If you are a leader, your people need you to be a good, build-them-up, always-encourage-them leader. So, if you are not doing that, get to it. Now.
A good place to start is to read Encouraging the Heart, and put the ideas of this book into practice.