One of the challenges of being an ineffective leader is that being ineffective causes you to become even more ineffective over time. There is a definite downward spiral for all ineffective leaders and these ineffective leaders pick up speed on their way down.
One reason that happens is because ineffective leaders either never knew, or have forgotten, that leadership is about people. They stop communicating on a regular basis with many of the people in their organizations. If they are a leader at the top of the organization their communications are primarily with their top lieutenants. Everything they hear and know is filtered through the lenses of those lieutenants.
Ineffective leaders in essence “live” in a bubble that ordinary, everyday employees can’t penetrate. These employees can plainly see the bubble from the outside. The devastating thing about living in a bubble is that you can’t see it from the inside. The fact is that most ineffective leaders would tell you there is no such thing as a leadership bubble. That makes it doubly hard for them to escape it.
They honestly, albeit foolishly, believe they are as plugged in and connected as anyone in the organization. This despite the fact that they may not have spoken face-to-face in the last year, or years, with more than a small handful of those ordinary, everyday people.
They are comfortable hearing what they want to hear. Delivered from people who are adept at delivering information the way “the boss” wants to hear it. The information is frequently “cleansed” before they ever hear it.
The challenge for ineffective leaders living in a bubble is that they not know what they don’t know. They also have no idea which of the things they think they “know” just ain’t so. These bubbles form around ineffective leaders over time. They become locked in without ever realizing it happened.
If these “bubbled up” ineffective leaders ever did break free from their bubble the most likely thing they would hear from their people is “how can leadership be so clueless about what’s going on.” These bubbled up leaders would be shocked.
Effective Authentic Leaders are aware of the dangers of these bubbles and work to make certain they are never trapped inside one of these formidable barriers. They make themselves highly visible to every member of the organization. They want their information unfiltered. They listen well and not only to the things they want to hear. They listen intently for, and to, the things they don’t want to hear.
Authentic Leaders “walk slowly through the halls” making sure they are as assessable as they can be. Bubbles can’t form around an Authentic Leader because they allow ALL their people to get close to them.
If you’re struggling to lead your team it’s very possible that you are in a bubble that you can’t see. Get out of the office and walk slowly around your organization. Talk to as many of your people as you can. Each one of those people are a “pin” poised to burst that bubble around you.
All of those conversations will be a breath of fresh air, for you AND your entire organization.