The Do-Nothing Leader

What are the consequences when leaders do not confront issues, solve problems and deal with under-performers?  People check out, disengage, lose heart and struggle to find a reason to care about the organization.  Those who truly care begin to burn their energy worrying and fretting over opportunities lost.  The high performers resent those who are not held accountable for under-performance.

Those who choose to do nothing fall into the trap of thinking that avoiding conflict, and the hard conversation, is least disruptive of the business; however, their omission is an act against the future stability and growth of the very organization they lead.

If you work for a do-nothing leader, here are a few tips…

First, focus on the things over which you have direct control.  Emotional energy spent churning over another persons inaction is not in your personal best interest.

Second, be consistent in your own decision-making.  The people around you need whatever amount of stability and consistency in direction you can provide.

Third, probe into ways you might support and encourage the leader to take constructive action toward resolution.  Look for opportunities to regularly and consistently discuss your observations with your leader and the impact indecision is having on the enterprise.  Be as specific and direct as possible.

Fourth, if you have become exasperated over opportunities lost, assess whether or not you’re in the right place.  Having something meaningful to work toward is essential to fulfillment and motivation.  However, this cannot be an emotional decision, nor can it be made in haste.  Think it through and weigh the cost.


Technical Skills Are Everything…

…until you reach the top levels of leadership.

During recent 360 interviews I conducted for a partner, one of his colleagues noted that his need to continue being the technical expert was reducing his effectiveness.

There is a critical shift or breakthrough professionals must make if they hope to effectively leverage themselves.  They must accept the reality that the higher up one goes in leadership the importance of being technically competent diminishes.  Behavior trumps technical in leadership roles.

Leadership is less about what you can do, and much more about what you can get others to do.  Knowing how to do is important, but mastering the art of motivating others to work with and for you is essential to long term success.


That people thing

Someone asked, “Why are senior executives and partners so resistant to developing people?”

Answer:  Over confidence in their industry knowledge

Here are examples a few leaders have given me as justification for not having a defined development plan for their people:

Finance executive:  “I’ve been in this business 30 years and I can spot the people who will succeed”

Construction executive:  “We know how to build things; it’s what we do”

Audit partner:  “We wait and see who naturally excels in our business; the cream always rises to the top”

What do these justifications for not developing people have in common (other than utterly missing the point)? They’ve all assumed that because they know their business and have succeeded personally, that they will recognize top talent when they see it.  The risk, of course, is the talent not showing up in time.

I wonder if they take this “sure hope things work out” approach to business strategy and operations?

Just a reminder for those of you at the top of your organizations…your primary responsibility is preparing the leadership of the future.