Leadership is about Ends and not Means

Leaders like to direct action. They seek leadership, and they like leading. I will not say that is wrong, but it often leads to telling subordinates how to do their job. Let me tell a true story with some facts changed as always to protect identity.

I know a factory where a good leader, let’s call him Mike, was a remarkably good fit. Mike had leadership ability and his technological understanding of the product was wonderful. Unfortunately, the new Asia Pacific Leader felt he knew better then Mike what should be done on the floor of the factory. He would detail how projects should be done and then check to make sure they were done that way. He made Mike feel worthless and frustrated. Mike expressed his frustration, but the Asia Pacific leader somehow needed to show how smart he is. So Mike quit and found other work that was less suitable, but where leaders appreciate and trust his ability.

This story plays itself out again and again all over China. Senior Leaders and junior leaders can all fall into the trap of wanting to be the know it all. They do not want the subordinates to be seen as too able.  They are always busy making decisions. The leaders under these decide everything leaders suffer. The company loses lots of brain power as insecure leaders have good people who simply carry out orders.

It does not have to be this way. We can resolve to try to give our workers a chance to prove themselves. We can ask our junior leaders how they think something should be done. We can ask them to champion a project and give them freedom to develop it. We can even choose to let them have credit and not take it for ourselves. Let them send the document.

At the same time, we can give direction. Mission Vision Values and Goals need the leader to be active and giving direction. When that is done, the great leaders step back and let their junior leaders show their talent in reaching those goals. They check on progress all the way, but they do not give the means under normal circumstances.

What are you seeing? Anything like this happening around you? Anything you need to put a stop to?

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Posted in: Being the Right Person, Coaching, Culture Development, Leadership, Motivating Workers

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