Most of my posts to this blog will be related to my true passion: the theatre. I will, however, from time to time post about issues that I feel strongly about. One such issue is people and how we, as individuals, interact with other people.
I often find it incredulous that our current society is not capable (for the most part) in accepting responsibility for their actions. This narcissistic behaviour is becoming increasingly evident in our daily lives. Now, it may be that I am becoming older, put I find myself these days not being able to deal as easily with people who are simply unable to say ‘sorry’ or ‘I don’t know’. They seem incapable of asking ‘Can you help?’ or ‘Can you give me some advice?’ I feel that there is a real fear amongst our leaders and managers (and that’s another point I’ll cope to shortly) not to put their hand up and say (from time to time) – ...yep got that one wrong guys, sorry. How can I make this right? How can we improve for the future?
I feel that it is time that we accept our fallibility and that of others (the most important part) and work toward common goals without fear of retribution, snide remarks or ‘labels’. After all, that’s all they are labels and nothing more. It is our own psyche that places any value on such ‘labels’ or snide comments and to do so means the labellers have achieved their goal (even if they weren’t aware of it).
Let’s face it. There’s not too much praise going around these days. And I mean genuine praise. It’s all about performance, meeting goals, achieving targets, beating the competition, the list goes on. Sure, organisations get us to set personal performance goals but they always have to be linked back to the strategic plan, KPIs, etc. Here’s a novel idea, what about our people setting their own goals simply about doing a better job. Finding better ways to do things. Surely, if we all do our job better the strategic goals will have to be met. There is too much focus on the one and not the many. Too much focus on the top and not the base that holds it up.
Getting people to focus on the strategic plan instead of themselves is all about the vinegar and not the honey. To be honest, (and this is where I believe narcissism is healthy) I would prefer to focus on my own goals and achievements rather what my boss might want. Focusing on self must ultimately help the group. Now, I’m not for one moment suggesting that this is ‘All about ME!’ but rather ‘if I do a good job then this MUST help my colleagues’. This is turn must help the team. Granted, there will be people who will just go and do their own thing regardless of the team, but this is what we have managers (and I particularly despise this word) for, isn’t?
You often hear that catch phrase at corporate talk fests, ‘Are you a manager or a leader?’ Ultimately the guest speaker hired at exorbitant rates will preach ‘if you’re a manager you’re concerned with the minutiae, but if you’re a leader, you’re concerned about the people’. Leaders show people where to go… Rubbish! I’ve had plenty of leaders who have gone off on their own tangents completely oblivious to the people behind them. They were leading alright, but not necessarily concerned with what was happening behind them. It is my personal belief that there is no such thing as a manager or a leader. If you are placed in ‘Managerial’ or ‘Leadership’ position you are given the task of making decisions on behalf of a group of people. That. Is. All. It is the people who will lead the team to its goals. It is the people who will manage how the team reaches the team’s goals.
For the first time, in a long time, I recently read an email from a CEO who asked his team to treat him as a peer. Wow! This is what I’m talking’ bout! This is the type of tact that everyone who is responsible for making decisions on behalf of a group should take. When treated as a peer people in the higher positions of an organisation are more likely to receive honest and open feedback. They are more likely to be told the truth about the real state of things rather than what their ‘subordinates’ may think they may want to hear. This is when real progress happens. And being treated as a peer doesn’t mean its all sugar and cream. It means that they will (and should) make hard decisions, but most importantly make decisions. Don’t shy away from them. Don’t delay or put off what must be done. Communicate the decision openly. Don’t use words that are trite or self-serving. Be direct. Be honest. Be true.