Are You Leading or Being Chased?Posted by bdynamics on Mar 13, 2012 in Burnside Dynamics, communication, Goals, professional | 0 comments
Some people think that just because the people are behind them and going in the same direction that they must be an effective leader. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Have you ever considered that they might just be chasing you? Good leaders do three things: set the direction, lead the right people, and let them know where they are during various intervals.
Setting the direction lets everyone know where they are attempting to go. It doesn’t mean that they have to get there exactly the same way. It does mean that everyone has the opportunity to get to the same end or result and put their efforts into getting there. Too many organizations do not set expectations appropriately or at all. When a client comes to me complaining about something an employee did, my first question to them is, “What is the expectation you set for that person?” I usually get the response of, “The what?” or “I just expect them to get it done.” If I get the “it” response I then ask further as to what “it” means. I normally get some vague response. With the answer of, “The what?” I explain to them that they got what they set as an expectation – confusion, frustration, not done because they didn’t know what was expected. Something as simple as remembering to give someone a deadline along with a task or giving an example of how you want the end result to come out will significantly reduce the confusion, frustration, and perception of ineffectiveness.
Once the direction has been clarified, it is now time to take the right people along. It is nice to give people job descriptions so everyone is on the same page as to what they are supposed to do. However, not everyone has the same skills even if they are in the same job. Take a look at the people around you and see who has what strengths and who has what weaknesses. Align the strengths with the tasks to be completed and support the weaknesses. Many assessment tools are available to help determine who has a tendency toward which skills. If they aren’t an employee, but a vendor or independent contractor that you are aligning with, make sure they have the skills and tools to do what it is that you need to get done. Many frustrated people align themselves with friends and family and then are disappointed because they don’t perform up to expectations (if they were even set in the first place). Pay attention to the ability to do the skills, not the social position.
The final effective piece to leadership is to let them know where they are during various intervals. People need feedback. If you were going to take a trip from California to New York, there are many ways to get there. If the only thing we tell people is to get there, they then must figure out how. Some may fly, some may drive, some may take other modes of transportation. If you need them there the next day (but didn’t tell them that), you will be highly disappointed with those that chose to drive or even those that booked their flight later in the week. If the expectations were set appropriately and everyone planned to fly to get there, there are still steps that need to be taken in order to complete the trip. When they make it to the airport on time to make the flight, it is nice to let them know you appreciate that they are there. Then they get on the plane, take the flight and disembark on the other end and make it to the hotel. Let them know you appreciate seeing them at the hotel. This is an over-simplified example to make a point that you need to set clear expectations and then let people know that they are appreciated and on the right track at various times throughout the process. If any of those critical steps were missed, they wouldn’t make it to the end result. So, look at critical steps and give feedback there.
People that are not given clear expectations nor given feedback as to how you feel they are meeting those expectations will tend to disappoint you, because they don’t know what you want or are looking at. In order for most people to figure it out, they will watch you and attempt to mimic you – or chase you. They figure that if you are doing something a certain way, then that must be the thing they should do or the path they should take. If you are okay with that and don’t mind being chased, then that might be your leadership style. However, I find most leaders want their followers to grow and contribute to the success of the journey. Then, one day, out of the group of followers may emerge another leader that can either lead with you or succeed you. If you have people chasing you, a new leader may just emerge by running you over and taking the lead spot and continue the race to the unknown.
Photo by Ambro http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499