Authentic Leadership can be complicated. It’s about people and every person you lead will have the own experiences, challenges and motivations. There is no “one size fits all” leadership approach. That’s what makes it so much harder (and rewarding) than managing. We manage things, stuff like budgets, buildings and equipment. None of those things are capable of adding emotions into the mix. Maybe one day a computer will tell you that you’ve hurt it’s feelings by yelling at it but that’s not a problem today.
It most certainly can be a leadership issue when dealing with people.
As complicated as Authentic Leadership can be, ineffective, unauthentic leadership is even more complicated. That’s because lesser leaders mess up leadership all the time. It’s easy to do but some lesser leaders seem to go out of their way to make it harder than it needs to be.
One of the biggest mistakes lesser leaders, poor leaders, leaders in name only, or whatever you want to call them make is they treat the people they are supposed to be leading like human speed bumps.
They throw them under the bus at the first sign of trouble.
These lesser leaders commonly use words like “fault” “blame” and “screw up.” They have their scapegoats all lined up before a mistake or failure happens. As they get older their index finger becomes crooked from so often pointing it at others.
Authentic Leaders know that when a team member underperforms there are only two options. The first is that the team member is in the wrong role. The second is that they, the leader, did not give the team member the tools and training needed to be successful. Either way, it’s at least partially on the leader.
Some of you will strongly disagree with that previous paragraph. You’ll say that you’re not responsible for growing your people. You’re not responsible for their poor attitudes. You’re not responsible for their lack of motivation. You’re not responsible that they can’t understand your directions.
What you’re really saying when you’re saying those things is that you’re not responsible for anything. You’re saying that you are not an Authentic Leader. When you say those things often enough, people, especially the people you’re responsible for leading, will begin to believe it.
Throwing your people under the bus is a massive failure of leadership. Not only will you have lost the commitment of the individual you’ve dumped on, the remainder of your team will just be waiting for their turn under the bus.
You’ll have done that! You WILL be responsible for that, whether you’re willing to accept that responsibility or not.
Authentic Leaders give most of the credit for success to the people they lead. They also accept a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for any shortcomings that may happen. They earn the commitment of their people by doing that. They minimize the chance of future shortcomings by doing that. They grow their people by modeling successful attitudes and actions. And they never, never, ever, use them as human speed bumps.
2 thoughts on “Human Speed Bumps ”
Underperforming employees drag down the rest of your organization! Takes more of the leader’s time and detracts from the higher performing employees. Sometimes it is best for that poor performer to find another job or career rather than hurting your organization!
Have you ever worked for a “for profit” organization? Your article is very heart felt but not realistic in the business/engineering/operations world.
Actually, your assumption couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve only worked in for profit organization. Very profitable large publicly held companies. It has taken a long time but even hard core investors and analysts now understand that the path to long-term sustainable growth and profitability is through people, NOT over them. Not only is the post realistic it is the most practical way to future proof the profitability of your business, big or small.