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It’s not something you want to be accused of nor caught doing, but the truth is most managers don’t measure lazy leadership. This is the kind of leading that looks more like managing people instead of merely their activities and this is the kind of leading that is costing you and your company truckloads of money. Lazy leaders are more than those who simply don’t go the extra mile. They are not in it for the long haul. There is no succession plan, no real investment of time and energy on development and as such, no discernable results. But, lazy leadership is harder to spot than you might imagine so here are a few, key, tell tale signs that will help you become a better boss, for which to keep your eyes open:
Expectations are Assumed
In keynotes, and in coaching and trainings, I frequently discuss leadership expectations. One simple question reveals the distinct lack of clarity most leaders share or are aware of in this area: “Have you told the members of the team what you specifically expect from each of them?” After a moment or two of hesitation, the truth becomes clear that no is the real answer. What is it that you expect those you lead to do? In what way and to what level of quality do they need to do it? What is it they should expect from you in the way of rewards, consequences, communication, or frequency of meetings? Leaders who assume employees know what to do are usually creating confusion or at a minimum being called difficult to work with. If this is you, get clear on what you expect, then tell them what you expect, and stop assuming they get it.
Emotional Intelligence is Ignored
Intellectually all management team members will tell you they know their team members are each unique and different. But when they make that statement with a tone of sarcasm on the word different, you know they are not aware of the impact of emotional intelligence. Knowing employees are different and leading them differently are two very distinctly different things. The most successful leaders invest time and energy in understanding what drives the behaviors of those they lead and how to actually engage and motivate them more effectively. Failing to understand their personality results in not only disengaged employees who are simply doing what comes most naturally to their personality, but a leadership style that is best described as hit or miss or trial and error. If this is you, time would be well spent in this area.
Employees Are Left Alone
How does a leader develop each individual team member to their full potential when they adhere to the old adage of “No news is good news”? Employees deserve the leader’s attention and a key role of being a leader is to develop, guide, motivate, and coach each and every team member. What does each person need from you in order to be better than they were yesterday? What do those who are star performers need to reach their next career level? What do those who are performing poorly need to identify their immediate improvement or next company? Spending regular meaningful time with each employee now will avoid spending lengthy hours sitting outside the door of HR. If you are the leader leaving employees to their own devices, telling them if they don’t hear from you that they shouldn’t worry, this is an area to adjust in a hurry.
Issues are Avoided
The opposite tell tale lazy sign is when a leader ignores issues such as conflict, training improvement needed, or the interviews conducted upon employment exit. A leader who let’s employees just work it out and never gets involved in conflict or disagreement is taking a hands off approach that is more passive than effective leadership. Not every small drama deserves undue attention, but every disagreement does warrant a leader’s awareness. A leader who fails to make time to share objectives with an employee BEFORE they attend a training is reinforcing a low learning retention and very limited effective training outcomes. Successful leaders add to their conversations time to connect with employees they are sending to a training both before and after the course to help ensure more learning happens. Those same leaders who avoid both of these efforts are the ones who take a hands-off approach when an employee leaves the company. Wouldn’t you want to know what caused the employee’s departure so you could fix any issues before they are repeated with the incoming candidate?
Lazy leadership may sound like a harsh moniker in light of the reality that most leaders simply run out of time to do it all on any given day. The key is in knowing the impact of the actions a leader takes and how even the smallest of regular steps taken will dramatically improve the performance of a team over time, thus making the leader’s job easier in the long run.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!