As The Boss, Are You Developing Leaders in Your Organization?
Recently I have been in several discussions with business owners revolving around leadership. In general, we have concluded to many organizations are continuing to experience inefficiencies in production, a disproportionate amount of waste, uncontrolled employee turnover, or any other issues that are a result of poor leadership skills. In most of these discussions, The Boss agrees that in their organizations they have very good workers, good to adequate managers, but they are lacking leaders.
The question is often raised, “Are people born leaders?” If so, then business owners must identify and hire born leaders if they want to improve leadership in their organization. As the conversations mature, I often see The Boss begin to think that some people are “born to lead” and have the natural talent to lead. This is different than being a “born leader”. What I see are talented employees in a growing organization, and The Boss identifies them as a “leader,” and therefore that person is promoted and expected to lead.
Often these people are great workers, very good managers, and then promoted into a leadership position in which they underwhelm The Boss. Why does this happen? Did The Boss make a poor decision by promoting this person? I would contend they did not, but what The Boss did not do was develop or train the new leader. Talent without training will most often underwhelm The Boss and cause more problems in an organization.
What are some of the signals The Boss needs to be aware of to identify poor leadership? The Boss may hear, “Just tell them (employees) that I am their boss so they will do what is say!” or “I told them (employees) to do that already and they still haven’t completed the work so it’s not my vault!” Obviously, these examples are coaching opportunities for The Boss but how do you stop these types of issues in your organization? Look for the “root cause” of the issue.
As you look for the “root cause” in your organization, here are a few examples to keep in mind. The new leader wants to be or is friends with the staff and wants to remain friends as they assume the leadership role. As The Boss, you will need to emphasize: respect first, friendship second. If the employees do not respect the leader, the leader will not be able to lead. This is an important lesson for first-time leaders as they develop their leadership styles. Now, in my opinion, I do not mean never be friends with the staff but there needs to be a professional separation for the leader to be effective.
Second, if the leader is insecure in their leadership abilities, they will resort to a “micro-managing” style of leadership. The insecure leader will try to control the situation by inserting themselves in a process that would ordinarily be done by a subordinate because they do not want The Boss to think they did not lead the process. An example of this would be the insecure leader sitting in on an initial interview which would normally be done by a humane resource person and/or an immediate supervisor. The leader does not trust that the employees can do as good a job as the leader, so the leader “hovers” over the process, causing dissension and mistrust by the employees responsible for the hiring process.
Poor leadership can be a “silent killer” of your culture. Micro-managing cultivates mistrust and as a result, fosters poor communication. The Boss can derail this process by coaching the new leaders in their organization. As The Boss, your goal should be to develop your leaders to be smarter than you are when they get to be your age and occupy your position in an organization!