It really doesn’t amaze me how some leaders come to feel they are a cut above. After all, who can blame them? As they climb the corporate ladder, the probability that they’re getting honest feedback rapidly diminishes. Certainly, those above them may still be candid, but those on the lower rungs, not so much. Few employees will risk calling out their bosses on their bad behavior or inadequate efforts…and this is not good for the offending leader in question or for the company’s bottom-line.
The Slippery Slope
The usual case is that remarks from those beneath a leader tend towards the positive. Flattery, ego stroking or careful wording – whatever an employee feels is necessary to keep their job – is the route many take. Whether it be ingrained deference to positional authority or for other reasons, most leaders simply do not get the ongoing feedback that they need to become great at enlisting the best from their people. It’s easy to understand how over time leaders can lose touch with what people are really thinking, and for some, to even care about it.
Know Anyone Like This?
It is not unusual to see senior leaders who have evolved double standards. While they might expect their team to return their phone calls or emails promptly, they themselves no longer feel compelled to do the same. Where they expect others to put in lots of effort, they chose instead to put in minimal sweat, even if they have the time. All this is both de-motivating and de-moralizing for those working under them.
The simple fact is that 9 out of 10 of employees leave because of a poor relationship with their direct supervisor, and not because of the pull of better offers elsewhere. Losing good employees costs time, talent and money. It is also something that companies can and should do something about.
Give Leaders Support…The Kind They Really Need
All too often leaders are thrust into their new positions with minimal support on what it really takes to engage and get the best thinking from their team…and this is bad for business. Engaged employees put their heart and shoulders into their work and this is why leaders need to learn how to tap into this.
Companies should teach and coach their leaders to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, hold leaders accountable, track their progress, and ensure they continuously focus on engaging their teams. A leader’s ability to engage their teams should be part of their formal performance review process. Improvements in these areas should be used as criterion for promotion. Where there are deficits, companies need to develop individualized plans for support. To do otherwise is to risk developing leaders who get drunk on their own kool-aid and that bleeds their best talent. And anyways, kool-aid really is for kids.