Leadership Fail: Why Your Employees Think You Are Failing To Lead
Do you ever stop to contemplate how those you lead—or those you are supposed to lead—actually experience your leadership? Do you ever assess your leadership effectiveness? Employees, including managers and senior executives, are often too uncomfortable to ever tell you that your leadership is failing. Because of the power differential, employees often won’t tell their bosses that they think you are failing to lead, but they tell me and people like me who work in the consulting, leadership development and executive coaching professions. When your employees think that you are failing to lead, they often find themselves at their wits end just trying to cope from day to day and sometimes hour to hour.
Leadership Fail: Refusing to ask questions that invite employee input and encourage engagement.
We often talk about the importance of listening and how listening is a key component of communication and leadership. However, listening for the sake of listening is not the goal. Listening to understand is the goal. Listening to learn is the goal. And listening to make better decisions is the goal. But how can you hear what your employees have to say if you never invite them to speak? How can you learn anything meaningful from your employees, managers or executives if you fail to ask questions? A few great questions you can ask to invite employee input and encourage engagement are:
There are huge gains to be had from asking great questions that challenge your team members to think more deeply—and strategically—about matters and involve them in business operations in meaningful and engaging ways. And when you pair great questions with these 12 simple phrases that transformational leaders use to get amazing results, you become better positioned to experience leadership success rather than leadership failure.
Leadership Fail: Neglecting to advance a culture where employees can safely tell you the truth.
If you are inclined to perpetually surround yourself with like-minded people who rarely—if ever—disagree with you, you may actually be creating a “yes-man” culture where dissent is outwardly discouraged and agreement is tacitly rewarded. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Well, it also dominates organizational policies and the loftiest leadership platitudes. Regardless of what you tell your staff about some open-door policy or how important it is that they tell you the truth, they won’t ever do this if the culture doesn’t both support and positively acknowledge and reward such behavior.
The term “yes man” is frequently used in a derogatory manner to describe a man or woman who is perceived to be overly agreeable and hesitant to share contrary viewpoints, especially with superiors. When we observe this behavior in others, we tend to see these individuals as weak and lacking courage and leadership. However, so much more is going on in these types of environments. The onus is not only on the perceived individual “yes man.” The organization carries much of the blame because this kind of behavior can’t persist unless organizational leaders create a culture where it is allowed to thrive. Most so-called “yes” people don’t get that way because they want to suck up to the boss. In my experience, most people get this way because they are responding to a culture or people in management who elicit and reward this type of behavior.
In my management consulting and executive coaching work, there is one question I regularly ask, and it is, “What messages do you hope to send to those with whom you work?” Why this question? Because it helps me assess whether the messages indeed align with the culture and then move to determine what kinds of behaviors those messages encourage in others across the organization. Far too often, organizational culture fails to match up with what leaders say they want to create. And any discrepancies or gaps between what a leader says the culture will—and should—be and how employees actually experience it are the leader’s responsibly and denote leadership failure.
The Yes Man Problem.ARVis Institute
Ultimately, most so-called yes men are doing what they think they need to do to survive on a dysfunctional leadership landscape where all the signals and messages confirm for them that dissent is bad and agreement is good. Unless your people can really tell you the truth, even if it means disagreement, you simply won’t experience meaningful leadership success.
Leadership Fail: Undermining your employees’ ability to do their best work.
Leadership brings on many responsibilities, but two of these responsibilities are paramount to your own leadership—and the organization’s—success or failure. It is the leader’s responsibility to set the stage for organizational and operational success and to create an environment where employees can do their best work. This requires these two key components.
As a leader, you have a strategic imperative to create an environment where the people around you can do their best work. If your goal is to be an effective leader who creates a high-performance culture of accountability and trust, it is critically important that you define what success looks like and then provide resources and remove obstacles so that your employees can make their greatest contributions.
This content was originally published here.