Monday, June 11, 2012

How leaders can facilitate growth

Employees feel engaged and deliver growth when they share a clear agenda, and are using all their talents.  Leaders add true value when they communicate clear expectations, outcomes and boundaries to allow others to be successful. 
From talking to business people and reading the press, it’s clear that many corporate leaders have responded to the tough environment and huge uncertainties by:
  • Cutting people and rewards – but not necessarily expected outputs
  • Pulling decision-making upwards – to give a sense of control
These are perfectly natural responses to a crisis but they have long-term consequences that are starting to appear. Cutting people and rewards without cutting the expected outputs can indeed result in people finding more efficient and innovative ways to do and share work – but only up to a point. The tipping point comes when they feel there is no hope of meeting what is expected of them after which they become de-moralised. In a tough jobs environment some will move on for a better work experience but many will simply disengage.

Similarly many decisions end up going through very senior people to give the leadership the illusion of control. The resulting bottleneck results in chronic slow or, worse still, no decision-making. Despite all the pressure to do more, managers can’t actually deliver their goals because they aren’t allowed to make the necessary decisions and judgements appropriate to their responsibilities. Again, unintentionally, the leaders have disengaged the very people they need to deliver growth and development of the company.

Smart, ambitious people can accept those conditions for a period of time. If it goes on too long they get start to question how much real opportunity they are getting for growth. What can they say on their CVs about these years if every initiative seems to be required and expected of them but all action gets bogged down from lack of senior decision-making?

One of the major benefits of the leadership coaching I deliver is helping leaders push decision-making downwards in their team, releasing strategic thinking time upwards in the organisation. To make this change, leaders have to take some critical actions:
  1. First they have to step back and create some reflective time for themselves - often that in itself requires some tough decisions about control of their time and possibly saying “no” to some “nice to do” tasks
  2. They need to get much clearer what is central and essential to their team’s or organisation’s success going forward – a tough, demanding but clear agenda is much more stimulating
  3. Once clear, they need to communicate these outcomes to employees in ways that allow them make sensible and effective decisions aligned to those outcomes – they need to give back the head-room to deliver.

No comments:

Post a Comment