Monday, May 16, 2011

Remember Who's Boss

I think that, at times - leaders and managers expect too much from the people who work for them.

Now, having put that out there, allow me to clarify. In this workforce lacking any sort of initiative, personal accountability, work ethic or drive, this might seem like an odd statement. But it has more to do with our expectations in terms of what level of self-management we put onto staff.

Allow me to offer an example.

One of the best managers I ever worked under was about 12 years ago. He gave me my tasks, gave me the deadline - then let me go at it. One check in about midway through to see if I needed anything - then he was away again. Anything I asked for (in terms of equipment or additional information) was available immediately upon the time it was requested - but otherwise, hands-0ff. One mid-contract evaluation to let me know what I could/should be doing to excel, and a final review of how things went at the end of the contract. It was exactly the sort of style I needed. Did this make him a great leader?


You see, one of my co-workers was given the exact same type of management, and hated it. He wanted weekly meetings, full of feedback on what he was doing well, what he could have done better... a single review and final evaluation wasn't enough. Being left to his own devices made him feel like he wasn't being led at all, and therefore - his supervisor evaluation was vastly different from mine.

This is one of the qualities that differentiates a good leader from a great leader, and highlights what I meant by "expecting too much". Firstly, a good leader has a style and approach that ensures that the tasks get done - but a great leader both recognizes the different styles and attitudes of the employees and adapts their approach to motivate and inspire that individual. Now, I recognize that this isn't always realistic, and goes back to the other side of the pendulum where the employee can't expect to have their hand held the entire time - however, I do think that we need to take the time to modify our approach to ensure our message is getting through.

I mean, let's be honest: if they are self-aware and adaptable enough to do modify their approach so that they are operating at a high level no matter how their manager is working with them and leading them... they are probably on the wrong side of the desk.


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