The most challenging aspect of providing great leadership is that leadership takes a different form according to the situation. In a post at Consulting 101, Lew Sauder shares a story of short-sighted leadership and derives some lessons for us to remember.
Take the Lead
Sauder had an engagement “where the president of the company flew in for the monthly steering committee meeting. He would schmooze the client, take them out to lunch, and assure them of their importance to the firm.” It was a large and important project, so the schmoozing was well founded. The first couple times he visited, he also met with the team doing the work. The team actually quite enjoyed the president’s visit, and it was great for morale to see him. But after those first two times, the president stopped visiting the team because he felt it was awkward; he did not think they actually wanted to see him because they were not very talkative or responsive to him. He did not take into consideration that he was dealing with people who mostly preferred the comfort of computer screens, and so did not have outstanding social skills. So the president misread the situation and overlooked the positive effect he had been having with his appearances.
Sauder’s big takeaway here is that leaders must recognize their responsibility to maintain employee enthusiasm and engagement—even when things feel a little awkward. This principle extends more generally to include that leaders must be receptive of employee attitudes and feelings:
I’ve worked for leaders who avoid communication with lower level folks. Leaders are busy people. They don’t have time to answer every question from every person in the company. That’s what the chain of command is for, right?
But when someone talks to you, it doesn’t take that much time to listen to them. If you look at your watch every thirty seconds and do whatever you can to end the conversation, it sends a message. The message is that you don’t care about the concerns of someone in the organization that serves you.
For further thoughts, you can view the original post here: http://blog.consulting101book.com/take-time-for-leadership/