One of the continual challenges you face when developing leadership capability is that however exciting, interesting or well designed your leadership training is, many in ‘leadership roles’ just don’t seem to take it up by changing their approaches or behaviours. The organisational response is often ‘let’s roll something else out and see if it sticks’ and so the cycle continues. However this week I heard two perspectives about leadership from leaders that I thought shed some light on the problem, and perhaps showed a way out of the cycle.
The first was from someone explaining why they didn’t ‘do a lot of leadership’. Their view was that ‘they aren’t just a leader’ and they have ‘other things to do’. In that reasoning you find the blocker for so many i.e. ‘if all I had to do was lead then I would do it’, but it’s the fact that the business still expects me to manage reporting, spreadsheets, budgets, cost control and often ‘be an expert, Senior…….’ (put in whatever professional background skill you want here instead of the dots) that I don’t have time for leading.
The second comment was from a leader who has put in place a remarkable transformation of their team. When asked ‘What did you do?’, they replied ‘I just gave them a lot of care’. In explaining that further, it was all down to the time and effort they gave to helping each person in the team succeed in the role.
The second person still has spreadsheets etc. to do i.e. they know they have management tasks to complete, but the difference is the allocation of their time to their people and what they do in that time.
I’ve always said that employee engagement survey questions all really mean ‘my boss gives a damn’ i.e. that the more you ‘care’ the higher the rating for every question and the less you ‘care’ the lower the rating. This leader is living evidence of that.
So maybe we need to stop reaching for a new leadership tool, model or framework every time our training doesn’t deliver and instead put our efforts into helping leaders to care for their team more than they care for their spreadsheets.