“So he just sat there?”
“And you didn’t know he was coming?”
“And he didn’t say anything at all?”
“And then he just left?”
My friend Sally had recently taken on a new role in her company during which the boss of the division was temporarily reassigned. Everything had been going just fine, with Sally settling in, learning the ropes and establishing a schedule that fell within the parameters established by the company (two days a week working from home). But when it was time for Bill the boss to return, he seemed less interested in getting to know his new team than establishing his authority and control.
To start, he made creepy unannounced and silent visits to team meetings, preferring to act as fly on the wall rather than a leader looking to inspire the troops. Then, when he decided to speak, it was all negative, negative, negative — questioning what each employee had been doing, criticizing much of the work, and laughing at the schedules which had been established.
“What would you have done?” she asked me.
“Well, I would have let people know I was coming and then worked to get acquainted or reacquainted with everyone to find out how they’ve been, what they’ve been working on, and how I could help them be more efficient. I would have looked to see where my priorities dovetailed with theirs and where they parted, and worked to close the gap on the latter as smoothly as possible. It sounds like Bill is more interested in proving to his superiors that he can get his team in line than proving to his team that he’s on their side.”
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“Well, if things keep going in this direction, I’m going to work on getting a transfer out of here as soon as possible, either within the company or out of it.”
And that’s the truth of it folks. Good people just will not stick around to be bullied by management that cares more about its own future than theirs. Can’t you just tell when a manager is more concerned with moving up on the backs of its team than backing them up? Ironically, it’s the managers best able to motivate their teams who get the best results, and thus move up the quickest. Why is this so often missed?
In leadership, there is a timeless element and a temporal one. The above represents the timeless — good leaders have always been focused on the happiness of their troops. The temporal changes with the times, and requires a deep understating of one’s environment. In our business at healthsystemCIO.com — publishing — this last week has seen a slate of stories about such temporal change.
- The Last Temptation of Tina Brown
- Bezos In 2012: People Won’t Pay For News On The Web, Print Will Be Dead In 20 Years
- New York Times Sells Boston Globe at 93% Loss
What I can see from the above articles is that we are very well positioned, with no print product pulling resources away from what matters, and no futile attempt to make our readers pay for content. In fact, we don’t even require you to register. I mean, how annoying is it to remember your username and password for a particular site?
To be a great leader, you need both. You need to practice and preach the timeless tenants of management while being firmly embedded in the changing dynamics of your times. Only if you employ them in tandem will you have the right team — inspired and enlivened — moving in the right direction. Tina Brown couldn’t do it, maybe Jeff Bezos can.