I recently read a book explaining how a new leader within an organization instituted a new policy designed to help the organization save money, retain their best workers, and shake off uninspired employees. However, Middle Management didn’t agree or like the new plan… due to a lack of understanding of the plan and a failure to ask. The situation was resolved as a point-person played mediator. The part I struggled with was the concluding consensus… that Middle Management and Employees were 100% to balme for not asking more questions to their leader. Remember, one person cannot be 100% to blame in a two-person or more relationship. So, what to do?
The first thing to do is to recognize anyone can be a leader if they choose to be! Whether you’re the CEO, middle management, and employee, the custodian… when you decide to show up daily with a smile, willing to do your best, be your best, positively influence ideas and others, be of impact, protect, and maintain high standards and expectations… YOU ARE A LEADER… and leaders always accept 100% of the responsibility when things go wrong or are misunderstood and give ALL of the credit to the team when things go right!
In the scenario I shared, Middle Management was 100% of the problem for not asking further questions to gain an increased understanding of the new policy. The more your team understands it and hopefully likes it… the better your leaders can share new Vision, Expectations, and Rules to their teams!
The real factor to be considered is WHY an employee would choose not to ask questions. Perhaps they fear sounding dumb in a group, unworthy to question things, or even knock on the CEO’s/boss’s door. Perhaps they’ve worked in an abusive and oppressive culture prior and feel it will be the same. Maybe, the current culture is toxic and abusive and those in positions of power don’t see it. These possible reasons do not provide an excuse for a lack of questioning however, need to be seriously explored and addressed for any company, organization, team, or relationship to move forward and be successful!
The CEO in the scenario was also 100% to blame. Too many times, when you are in a position of power it’s easy to share an idea or a new way of doing things and assume everyone knows what you mean, how it works, and most importantly how it will help. Remember… you thought of it or did it before, it’s been rattling around in your head… not theirs, you’ve spent the most time with the idea and process… not them, therefore you are most excited about it; not them… and why would they be?
I experienced this early on when I started my business; helping people, leaders, and organizations enhance Leadership & Work/Life Harmony. I knew what it was to me, the impact, and how it would help… but the companies didn’t. They had questions, their own needs and concerns, and sometimes didn’t understand. Knowing this allowed me to maintain the Vision, but continually modify the process, and BOOM!!!
If you are in a position of power within an organization or team, are you approachable (you may think you are, but are you really?), will you accept hearing things you don’t want to hear about your “Baby”, and does or doesn’t it make sense to modify? Below are a few steps to consider!
When You’re the leader of an organization or team you must be willing and capable of:
Listening – Most people can hear, not all listen, and even fewer listen when it involves their ego. Be willing to put your ego aside and listen to the questioning of your “Baby”, their concerns, and their fears. What to they like about the plan and is there anything they’d fine-tune?
Challenge – As a leader, be excited to accept the challenge of your idea. Perhaps your employees, an organization, or (in your personal life) your partner or kids think they have a better idea. The key here is to know your Leader’s 3… your Vision for the organization and the Vision Factors (those 3-5 things when done correctly and consistently the Vision must come true), your expectations, and rules. Knowing your Leader 3 will take your ego out of the argument and you are solely focused on the Vision… making it easier to know what to say “Yes” and “No” to. What is aligned = “Yes”. What’s not aligned = “No” or “Now at this time”
Apply – In the scenario, I shared the CEO was able to maintain the plan as Middle Management learned more about the Leader’s 3 and how it would benefit them and the company. There will be times the Vision and Process stay the same… you’ll have to listen, accept the challenge, and break the plan down to be better digested. Not everyone can eat and digest your 7-Course Meal as quickly as you can. However, there will be times your people mention something so profound it cannot be ignored; making more sense to apply it and modify. The Vision stayed the same, but the process just got better!
Evolve – Things can only stay the same for so long before it becomes less productive and obsolete. The Vision may not change, but how the vision is best served or applied may. Leaders know when to let ideas and processes evolve. Ask Blockbuster Video?
When you’re an employee or member of the team you must be willing and capable of:
Willing – In it’s simplest form, are you willing to work, do your best, and be your best as a person and professional with others? The culture starts at the top of the organization but lives and breeds with its front-line people! Be Mindful… a good idea is harder to be accepted when it’s given by someone that’s usually a grouch, a negative Nick or Nancy, and a habitual complainer. You could be right and it could fall on deaf ears.
Ask Questions – This can be tricky! As I mentioned, there can be many reasons why someone may not want to ask the boss questions. A great preface is… “I wanted to ask you about _____________ to be sure I fully understand and am best able to share it with my team.” You can add, “I understand ________________, I’m struggling with ________________ and how it helps ____________________. This shares you were listening, care, and desire to be clear for the purpose of the Vision!
Learn – As a Leader, you must be willing to learn the things you want to learn… and the things you don’t want to learn! New technology, new policies, new people are all coming your way. Don’t get stuck in “The way we used to do things” as it will make you a dinosaur… and we all know what happened to them!
Apply – Knowing something new and helpful without applying that new and helpful thing will keep you on the hamster wheel. Do you want more acknowledgment professionally, want better health, want a better relationship… there are tons of things to know more about… apply them positively and consistently and watch your personal leadership, work/life harmony, and opportunity, professionally and personally, enhance!
Evolve – Be willing to allow your role, professionally and personally, to evolve! Just as your wants and needs change over time… as do the wants and needs of your organization, your team, and relationship. Be willing to ask questions, continuously learn, apply new skills, and evolve; continuously raising your value and your worth! Enjoy your evolution!
“Leaders accept 100% of the responsibility when things go wrong or are misunderstood and 0% of the credit when things go great; giving ALL of the credit to team” – Andre Young
written by: Andre Young
Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements and Leadership Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual)! www.youevolvingnow.com