I speak with many mangers and leaders who are seemingly at a loss when it comes to overcoming the people challenges in their organizations and teams. They look at me with exasperated and frustrated expressions and say things like:
“They are so apathetic, they aren’t motivated to go the extra mile”.
“All they do is moan and complain, rather than focussing on the job in hand”
“They come to me with every little problem, they are incapable of solving anything by themselves.”
To which I reply:
“You are not a leader if you don’t have followers. It is up to you to find ways to inspire them to follow you. That’s your job.”
Changing the challenge statements to read from a new perspective helps us to get creative about overcoming them.
“I have not created the conditions for my team to feel motivated to give their full potential”
“I have not created the conditions for my team to feel content and focussed in their mission”
“I have created a team with an overdependence on me, who do not feel empowered to succeed independently”
When we speak in terms of ‘they‘ we disempower ourselves and feel helpless. When we change the perspective to an ‘I‘ we can begin moving in a new direction in which we are in control.
If you want to assess how your team feel about you as a leader, you could ask them to rate statements like the ones below (1 – completely disagree, 3 – neutral (‘meh’), 5 – completely agree).
NB: It may need to be anonymous for them to be candid.
1) I always understand what we are trying to achieve and how my contribution adds value
2) My manager understands what is important to me and supports me to give those things the attention and time they need
3) We have a great team spirit where everyone supports each other and feels comfortable raising concerns, admitting mistakes, and making suggestions for improvement
4) I am trusted to use my best judgement and have autonomy over how I deliver results
5) I know I will be recognised and/or rewarded for the value I add
6) My manager consistently reflects and leads through the values of the organization
Research continues to show us how misaligned the opinions and experiences of employees are compared to their managers and leaders. We can either find a way for the fish to follow us willingly and with enthusiasm, or we can trap them in a net and start dragging them in the direction we need them to go, while they swim in the opposite direction. Only one of these approaches leads to long-term, sustainable success for all.
Which approach are you using?