Heard This Story Before?

In doing some research for a paper, I was reading about the difference between effective managers and those who become sidelined before hitting their peak.  While it might seem obvious that it has a lot to do with the way in which they motivate and inspire their followers, I still see traditional methods of “leading” being used, despite evidence that their side effects can doom organizations.  Effective organizations, concerned about their long term health, have begun to see that a bottom line-oriented, results-driven workplace actually stifles innovation and the ability to flex. Chiefs who are insensitive and abrasive chase away open-minded individuals; Open-minded and creative thinkers are needed to come up with the novel solutions to modern challenges we all face.

A list of reasons for executive derailment read like a skill set for the “worst bosses of history”: cold, arrogant, untrustworthy, overly ambitious, selfish, unable to delegate or build teams, and unable to select or acquire appropriate staff.  I have not only seen these traits exhibited by managers who thought they were “leaders”, these characteristics can be associated with some of the biggest business failures in modern times. When the arrogant make mistakes, they are monumental. When chiefs fail to surround themselves with good people, any number of problems surface. These leaders either burn out because they are carrying a lot of the load, or they burn others out, or worse; they create an environment where individuals resist change because they lack trust in the leader’s motives.

According to Greg Satell, in an article at Forbes.com, successful managers cannot claim an open door will keep them connected with their subordinates. Not leaving the office creates a wall; a leader must seek their people, they need to be connected with and challenged. Lencioni, in Five Dysfunctions of a Team, tells the story as well by pointing out that the problem isn’t always the structure but the informal relationships that evolve; trust is essential for teams to create productive dissent and to solve issues by considering paradigm-breaking methodologies.

Chiefs must employ people skills whether they like it or not.  If they don’t have these naturally, they need to seek those who can educate or coach them, otherwise, their time sporting a gold badge is likely to be a short one.

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