Have you ever been in a situation where you were worried about saying the wrong thing? I have a friend who worked in an environment where everyone was afraid of doing anything at all ‘outside the rules’. The reason for this was that she had a boss that purported to want new ideas, and to want people to make their own decisions and come up with new ideas.
The problem was – it soon became clear that he only wanted ideas that HE would have come up with and any other idea was shot down in flames in double time. Now this guy, no doubt, thought he was a great leader. He certainly returned reliable results in his department, but boy did he burn the midnight oil. He was the first one there in the morning and the last one there at night, and he probably came in at the weekends too.
It didn’t matter how many leadership courses he went on (and he went on quite a few as the company encouraged that sort of thing), or how great technically he was – because he created a command and control type of environment as a leader. He was certainly well respected (maybe even slightly feared) but he didn’t trust his team. And therefore the team around him quickly learned that they should keep their mouths shut when it came to suggestions or ideas.
You see if this is how you lead then your team are never going to be confident to do what needs to be done and you will be left with a disjointed, disgruntled and disillusioned group of people who blame each other, bicker, fight, but probably pretend to be best of pals. All waiting to stick the knife in someone else’s back to take the attention off of themselves.
I have seen many a team fear making decisions, which means that important stuff gets deferred and the boss gets frustrated over why someone doesn’t just step up and get it done. It is probably because they know they will get the knife in the back if they say “the wrong thing” whilst all the smiling assassins stalk round like hyenas on the plain.
Command and control structures are great in an emergency – in my previous life as a police inspector, there were certainly times when you need the leader to make the decision and the team to get on and do exactly what needs to be done – with no deviations. However, even in the police, leadership shouldn’t always be that way.
If it is then people don’t develop confidence, capability and a culture of taking responsibility as a team because it doesn’t give people the opportunity to feel safe to make mistakes, take a risk and do the right thing. Does that make sense?
It is great in a fire, or where the bomb has gone off but in normal day to day situations it stifles people, stifles creativity and decision making in the long run and leads to a stab in the back culture where no-one feels safe and stress levels are high.
So, do you foster a culture of knives and blame or do you create a trusted team environment of growing leaders for the future.. I won’t make you tell me now, but let’s hope the former is not you!
If you think it might be – but everyone is too scared to tell you, drop me a mail to [email protected] and let’s have a talk about how we can find out, develop your people to their full potential and make your life easier in the process. Unless you like working weekends…….
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Julie Hutchison is co-Director with Jan Sargent of Transforming Performance, a consultancy which provides businesses with expert support in Leadership Coaching, Team Development and Performance Coaching, Executive Coaching, Mentoring, Training and Behavioural Profiling and help in getting the best from you and your people. If you’d like to have a chat and a coffee to discuss how we can help you, we’d love to talk. Call us on:
01722 484155 or 07947 823842