Key Point: Have you ever had a boss who just treated you like you were an inferior and expendable commodity? How did it feel? Are you treated with respect as a peer or does your boss treat you like a child? Weak leaders see their employees as inferior “subordinates” who really can’t be trusted. These “parent” bosses believe most workers need to be watched carefully because they might be ripping the company off. They have all kinds of subtle or blatantly obvious systems and policies to catch people doing the wrong things. The by-product of this approach is often a culture where employees learn how to play the game. They quickly find ways to expend energy on making sure “superiors” see them busy, doing exactly what they’re told and/or covering their behinds. So, are you a child or peer?
You would think that in 2012 all associates would be treated as peers. Of course we all have bosses and there is a hierarchy of authority but great leaders expect EVERY person to be a valued contributor and treat them that way. When a leader inspires an associate by creating an environment of purpose, expected excellence and contribution, most of us rise to the occasion BECAUSE we want to belong and be a valued “player.” When treated with respect as a valued colleague most of us embrace self-accountability and are motivated to have a positive impact.
Treating associates at every level as a vital person in the organization chain is key to making the workplace great. If not, why would they be there?
Really engage people’s thinking and listen. If you’re a boss and spending way more time telling versus asking; you are likely out of balance and patronizing. As the boss your job is to optimize the contribution and skills of all and not to be the fountain of all brilliance and wisdom. If people start agreeing with every thing you say… That is a danger sign that you’re a “mom or dad,” more than a leader.
Recognize that valued contribution is more important than punching the time clock. The most important thing is not whether someone’s car is the first or last in the parking lot. What’s more important is the value provided in exchange for total compensation. Clock watching management has no value. If someone is not showing up when and where they’re needed, expectations are not clear or the person does not have the right mindset.
Challenge the dumb things we do to continue the parent-child relationship we have institutionalized in organizations. Expect self-accountability… Expect mutual awesomeness.
Key point: Leadership effectiveness and trust are two sides of a mirror. Establishing trust requires conscious attention and practice. In order to establish trust, we have to work on both our character and competence simultaneously. Are you trusted as a leader? Team member? How do you know? How would you be rated on the competence and character scale?
Upon recently leaving the company I was CEO at for almost eight years, I wrote a farewell note to all team members and thanked them for trusting me at the helm. Trust was their gift to me. They were always there to encourage me in success and pick me up when I failed. It is a privilege to be in a leadership position and one can’t be optimally effective without having the trust of the entire team. To develop additional insight on the trust challenge read the following Harvard Business Review blog by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, authors of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader.
Their HBR blog focuses on two significant components of trust; competence and character.
“For people to trust you as a boss, they must believe in your competence to know what to do as a boss. At one time or another, we’ve all had bosses whom people said, “he doesn’t know the business” or “she doesn’t understand what we do.” No one would trust you to do brain surgery because you’re incompetent in that context…
Character is equally important. It refers to your intentions, what you’re trying to do, your goals and values as a boss. If, for example, people think you’re only out for yourself, driven by blind ambition, and don’t care about them, the group, or the work, they will distrust your character, no matter how much you know.”
Be aware and present regarding your competence and character “score” as it relates to trust.
To reinforce competence fully engage the expertise around you. People don’t expect you to know everything, but understanding how and why you make decisions and the extent to which you make that clear to all parts of the organization is a vital trust element.
Work on and continue to develop your character. This is what The Character Triangle is all about. However, we’re not perfect. People know we will make mistakes. They will help us be true to our values if we truly care about them in the most genuine way. Remember that you live in a fish bowl and every act, big or small, connects to define our character.
“It’s common to let the person up the chain be most responsible for whether you have a healthy relationship, but you’re equally responsible. If you don’t manage that relationship right, your team is not going to be able to do what it needs to do.
Powerlessness corrupts as much as power. You shouldn’t feel powerless with your boss. That’s not the deal. You have to figure out the sources of power you have to influence the boss. You also have to see the boss as human and fallible in all the ways that you’re human and fallible, and figure out how to deal with the reality of who that person is—rather than the ideal of what you’d like that person to be like. There are really bad bosses, and you can’t be naive or cynical about this. It’s hard to be successful with a bad boss, and sometimes success means figuring out how to get out of that situation. But before you decide that’s the deal, you need to take responsibility for the relationship, because it’s definitely two-way.
Today many people have multiple bosses, and we also discuss the challenges there. One of the most common missteps is to deal with the boss who’s closest to you physically and treat your relationship with your other boss as out of sight, out of mind. So we talk about how you have to manage the priorities between those two bosses and how to negotiate what will be your priorities, given their priorities.”
Action: Take honest stock of what we’re doing to improve the relationship with our boss or bosses.
The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ... Read more about Lorne Rubis
Also available at all Hudson News Bookstores in major U.S. airports.
Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.
What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?
The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:
Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame. Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process. Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.