You know the rest of this important life lesson.
As you develop as a leader, it is mission-critical for you to carry/embody this lesson daily with you.
Recently, I was working with an executive and I conducted a 360-degree review that was quite critical. What surfaced from my interviews was that he exhibited a consistent level of dismissal of others’ points of view. As a result, whatever his leadership position he had with his peers and direct reports had almost completely eroded.
Further, he was overly blunt, impatient, and put no effort into tailoring his ideas to others’ situations. It was his way or the highway! The outcome of this was a high degree of social inauthenticity and collective insecurity around him. Essentially, if he wasn’t going to care about them (do unto others), then they weren’t going to care about him (as you would have them do unto you). We had work to do!
We began by discussing these issues and pinpointing specific examples of his leadership stumbles over the past six months. We focused on his impatience and inability to see an employee’s challenge with an assigned endeavor. He never checked in with his directs about their workstreams. He just assumed people would complete their work they way HE would do it, never checking on their progress or accepting any new ideas. I pointed out this was a flawed paradigm/belief system. Many clients think that their direct reports should be able to complete endeavors in their image. This is quite incorrect.
Everyone has a different way they will solve a business challenge. The question is: did the person complete the task and how correct was it? And when it is incorrect, asking oneself, WHAT CAN I TEACH THEM, NOT FAULT THEM FOR?
Ah-HAA! We found his major incorrect behavior. He discovered that he looked to blame each direct report rather than discover opportunities where he could advance the genuine effort they had put forth, guiding them with his experience, knowledge, and expectations. This is where the strength of leadership lives: mentoring instead of dictating. You and I will never get a second or tertiary effort from a direct report without this mindset.
From this discovery, we began to agree on a set of altered behaviors that had him listen before he critiqued. Further, he is now serving as a coach to his team rather than a line boss in a factory.
Together, we developed some key questions he could ask regularly:
- What’s important to you this quarter?
- How would YOU like to grow?
- What would you like to transform professionally this quarter?
- What would be your ideal state of development by year-end?
- What’s been most challenging?
- Would you like my help?
He has begun to see a transformation in his team’s attitude towards him as their leader. Progress!
How are you treating your direct reports? And how is it coming back to you in the form of their behavior and attitude towards your leadership?