Friday, October 22, 2010

Leadership Is A Mirror, And Yours Is Cracked

Did you ever notice that a team almost always reflects its leader, kind of like a mirror? This applies in business, in sports, just about anywhere one person or a very small core of leaders is in charge of a group. If the leader is confident, the team will be confident. If the leader is operating out of fear, the team will follow suit. It never fails.

Think about it. I’m sure you’ve seen this in action at your company or place of work. A Department Manager (let’s say he’s in charge of the Sales team) is obsessed with details, with following company policies and procedures to the nth degree. You notice that his staff seems to be filled with similar types. His Assistant and Lead Salesman are the same way, agonizing over every crossed “T” and dotted “I”.

Is it a coincidence? Nope. The team reflects the leader for a couple of compelling reasons. First of all, those employees that have a natural predisposition to behavior similar to that of the manager- employees who are also overly concerned with fine details- will tend to rise up the ranks as the leader naturally gravitates to them and their work style. “Hey, you guys re-counted the sales figures three times too? Cool!” he says. His priorities are centered around those types of behaviors, so in his eyes the employees with similar outlooks are the “best” employees on his team. They’ll move up the ladder much faster than those who don’t share those traits.

Those employees will be moved to the back of the line over time. They’ll get the message that their way isn’t the “right” way. Eventually the staffers who aren’t as focused on the “small stuff” as the Boss is will start to withdraw. They tend to stop contributing or do the bare minimum to get by. They certainly won’t be out there breaking new ground or coming up with new ways to do things.

Now, if the leader is operating from a position of confidence and strength, this can be a great thing for a business. If he or she is obsessed with finding new clients, coming up with new ways to do things, increasing revenues, or any of the priorities your business or group values most highly, that type of leader can bring out the best in his or her staff, cultivating even more leaders. But having a weak link in that crucial position can start a domino effect, rewarding actions you want to avoid altogether!

Without a strong foundation of leaders at the top of your organization it can be difficult to create the culture you want. Start with good people, let them do good work, and let them lead others along that same path! Be that kind of leader!

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