For years I was “Mr. Idea Man” in our company. But that was my job, wasn’t it? As the leader of the company, I thought it was my duty to generate the ideas and map out how to implement them. Eventually, I learned that there was a better way to lead my team. I discovered a method for increasing innovation and managing change at the same time.
Old Management Style
My old management style went something like this: When I got an idea for our business, I would come up with all the questions to ask and do all the research to determine all the answers.
Then I would go to our management team to present my idea and explain how it would work. The team always accepted the ideas, but they were always “Bobby’s ideas.”
For days, weeks, and even months after I presented an idea, I found myself spending a lot of time and energy just persuading my team that it was a good idea.
And when it came time to implement a “Bobby idea,” the process was very slow, and it always took a lot of pushing and prodding to make it happen. It was draining and discouraging.
Observation: The more competent a manager/owner is in the technical aspect of his or her work, the stronger the tendency is for them to make decisions and set goals alone, and simply tell the employees what to do.
The Lone Ranger
Are you a Lone Ranger when it comes to making decisions and even setting goals in your organization, like I was?
Has your leadership effectiveness been limited by these two common problems? After all, aren’t you in charge?
In most organizations, decisions and goals are often imposed from the top of the organization on those below.
With this top-down approach, leaders usually find their decision-making and goal-oriented system isn’t working right and the employees feel decisions and goals are regarded as arbitrarily imposed.
But think about it, even the Lone Ranger wasn’t really a loner. Everywhere he went he rode with Tonto!
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision… It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
– Andrew Carnegie
In a previous blog post, I offered you a simple survey about our motivations. You can easily record your own answers by downloading the FREE survey <here>.
I have found that this survey is one of the most powerful tools that you have for discovery and learning. The statements in the survey ask you to think more deeply about this important topic of motivation.
Recently, we’ve been digging into the survey, one part at a time. Now it’s time to look at the last two statements in the survey.
Every leader can learn more about their own motivation by reviewing the last two of the ten statements in the survey.
1. When I make a mistake, it helps me become more motivated and effective if people point out how stupid or ineffective I am – particularly in front of others.
I don’t know of anyone who would agree with this statement. There’s a long-standing recommendation about praising in public and criticizing in private. We’ve never run across anyone who revels in being publicly criticized or demeaned.
Also, it’s been suggested that corrective advice be phrased along the lines of looking forward to opportunity rather than backward to blame.
For example, “You’re still messing up on four percent of these” doesn’t help me maintain or enhance my sense of self-worth. “Is there some way we could achieve a higher success rate than 96%?” presents a challenge without making me feel inadequate.
2. If I ask my subordinates for their ideas or advice, they most certainly will think I am weak and as a consequence respect me less as a manager.
Most people admit that this is an unreasonable statement. First, no supervisor is expected to know everything – and shouldn’t pretend he or she does.
Second, almost all subordinates can contribute useful insights and suggestions when they are asked – and they enjoy being respected as worthy participants in decision-making processes. And, as a friend once pointed out, “You can’t have an inspired set of associates if you ask them to check their brains at the door!”
When you lay down your Lone Ranger mask and engage your people to participate in the decision-making and goal-setting process, they have a real opportunity to gain experience and grow professionally.
Are you curious about the rest of survey? The two blog posts below break down the first eight statements of the survey:
- Survey statements 1 through 4 <click here>
- Survey statements 5 through 8 <click here>
Are you a Lone Ranger when making decisions and setting goals? Would you like to have a more team-oriented approach to your decision-making and goal-setting process? Please share your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with a friend and a co-worker.