“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” — Robert Lewis Stevenson, 19th century Scottish poet, novelist, and essayist –
We can’t build a team or organization that’s different from us. We can’t make them into something we’re not. Failing to follow this principle is the single biggest reason that so many team and organization change and improvement efforts flounder or fail. The changes and improvements we try to make to others must ring true to the changes and improvements we’re also trying to make to ourselves. The following is a checklist:
Are You Trying to Make Your Organization or Team Into Something You’re Not?
To What Extent am I:
__ Attempting to change my organization or team without changing myself?
__ Prodding my organization to be more people (customer/partner) focused when I am a Technomanager (driven by management systems and technology)?
__ Driving for industry or market leadership when I am afflicted with the Pessimism Plague and/or Victimitis Virus?
__ Striving to stimulate and energize others when I am not passionate about my own role and life’s work?
__ Promoting organization or team vision, values, and mission when my own picture of my preferred future, principles, and purpose aren’t clear and/or well aligned with where I am trying to lead others.
__ Pushing for a customer-driven organization while controlling and dominating, rather than serving (servant-leadership)?
__ Aspiring to develop new markets and fill unmet needs while spending limited time with customers, partners, or those serving them?
__ Trying to build a learning organization when my own rate of personal growth and development is low?
__ Declaring the urgency of higher levels of innovation while I stick to familiar personal methods and traditional command and control management approaches?
__ Aiming for disciplined organization or team goal and priority setting when I am not well-organized, a poor personal time manager, and fuzzy about my own goals and priorities?
__ Setting organization improvement plans without an improvement process of my own?
__ Promoting teamwork and a team-based organization without providing a personal model of team leadership and team effectiveness in action?
__ Supporting high levels of skill development — for everyone else?
__ Forcing accountability, performance appraisal, and measurement on others while I defend, avoid, or half-heartedly gather personal feedback?
__ Proclaiming empowerment and involvement while controlling and limiting people with a centralized structure and systems that constrain rather than support?
__ Talking about the need for better communications without becoming a strong and compelling communicator?
__ Establishing formal reward and recognition programs when my personal habits of giving sincere recognition and showing genuine appreciation are weak?
__ Espousing support for change champions while suppressing “off the wall” behavior and pushing people to follow my plans and stay within my established system?
__ Advocating reviews and assessments while doing little personal reflection and contemplation?
What do my answers tell me about my leadership? Does this exercise help explain the positive, negative, or so-so results of the team and organization improvement efforts I lead? My reflections are important, but an even better source of feedback are the people on my team or those in my organization who know my leadership behavior well enough to give me some feedback. Ironically (and tragically), managers who need it most — the weakest leaders — are the least likely to ask for this kind of feedback.