I don’t know if it’s the law of unintended consequences that is unwittingly invoked by some leaders or they are yet learn the perils of what happens when people in their respective teams focus attention on and circulate around them.
A number of instances in recent times have been continuing source of frustration for these leaders, their direct reports along with people further down in the organisation.
Let me share just one scenario with someone we’ll call Brett. On one hand Brett has the drive, energy and desire to create a great organisation, however, on the other hand, while Brett is not a micromanager he was unaware that his leadership style is very ‘black and white’ and he has definite opinions on what should be done and in some cases how it should be done. Brett was verging on autocratic.
Until one our coaches began working with Brett he was unaware of his impact and what that caused people to do. Here are a few outcomes of his ‘black and white’ approach:
- People reacted in line with Brett’s requirements; rather than initiate action people did not want to be the first to act, often procrastinating and avoiding situations.
- People often switched priorities to meet Brett’s needs.
- Leaders were risk averse.
- People worked towards consensus in decision making and taking actions that aligned to the Brett’s view (sometimes even if they didn’t agree with him).
- There was artificial harmony within and between teams which was beginning to undermine trust.
- People shifted responsibility to others rather than take accountability, particularly if they were unsure how Brett might respond.
- Motivation and sense of accomplishment was steadily decreasing. The organisation’s culture was becoming passive.
The answer lay in realigning Brett’s focus and where he placed emphasis. He moved attention from himself by working with his leaders to reinvigorate organisational purpose and direction that inspired people and became the focus for the work of leaders and people at all levels.
When people focused on this renewed clear purpose and direction instead of Brett, their leader, the following accrued:
- People initiated action as the journey ahead of them was clear.
- ‘Line of sight’ to the purpose/direction was reinforced through clear goals, milestone and measures.
- Accountabilities were agreed and people were prepared to be held accountable for the achievement of outcomes.
- Innovation increased as it was focused on an agreed purpose/direction.
- Risk was easier to manage and mitigate.
- There is now a central point of focus and guidance to return to when challenges, differences, or new information has the potential to impact or change outcomes.
- Critical learning opportunities that develop leaders and their people are mapped out as part of the journey.
- A strong sense of accomplishment and achievement permeates the organisation.
It is amazing what can be achieved with a change of mindset and focus by a leader. We are confident that Brett did not intend to create the type and level of impact he did prior to working with us. It is worth taking a moment to reflect on whether your impact as a leader might be creating some unintentional consequences further down in your organisation.
Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.