Or, how we create devastating organizational predicaments
Over the past few weeks, I fortuitously became involved in three distinct conversations with friends from very different walks of life. Despite not being related or connected whatsoever, these fine individuals have several things in common:
- Top-notch skills and competencies in their respective professions
- Eagerness to see the organizations they work for succeed beyond the stated goals
- Impeccable work ethics and integrity
- Education and credentials
- Strong wills and significant track records and achievements on a variety of projects or roles over a long period of time (several years)
- Great interpersonal skills
In short, we’re talking about the kind of people you dream of having on your team.
Unfortunately, these fine folks have something else in common: something went terribly awry on their respective work fronts. Two of them recently returned to work after being away on stress leave, and one said goodbye to a very promising career with a reputable organization.
All three were brought to this breaking point because of one thing: their manager’s behavior.
Stop. Pause for a minute. Re-read that last sentence. Please.
Sadly, this is nothing out of the ordinary but rather par for the course in today’s workplace. There are only too many studies available on the topic of stress-related medical leaves.
What I’m wondering is, did you ever reflect on the devastating impact some managers are having on the people and organizations they are trusted to lead? Put another way: did you ever think about how much these managers are costing their organizations?
Notwithstanding my love for Dilbert, this is not a rant about evil managers. While I have no idea who the managers in these stories are, I am willing to bet a latte (people who know me know that I don’t joke about my coffee!) that these individuals are doing absolutely what they believe to be the best thing for the organizations.
So, what’s going on then, you ask?
The fine folks at Gallup just released another awesome report that certainly provides a partial and important explanation as to how this disconnect could happen. Click here to download the report.
In essence, substantial research suggests that we have it quite wrong when it comes to hiring and promoting managers. Managing is altogether a skill set of its own; Gallup refers to different talents. The submission is that what makes an individual successful in a role does not predict the individual’s ability to be a leader of other human beings.
Makes sense to me!
Here is a chart presenting the 5 talent dimensions identified by Gallup:
As you will notice, these talents mainly have to do with how we show up, how we behave and how we interact with the individuals we lead. They have very little to do with our technical abilities or skills (which, granted, one could argue are needed in order to display the talent dimensions).
Ah, and let’s not forget about the strong relationship between employees’ engagement level and the type of leader they have. In fact, the relationships we have with our managers account for 70% of what drives our engagement level.
The point I wish to make here is that we are at a leadership crossroads. How we approach recruiting managers—for their job related skills and accomplishments to date rather than their interpersonal skills and abilities to lead others— is symptomatic of our dysfunctional, diseased organizational systems that no longer produce desirable results.
We need to take a step back and be willing to think about what we need to do differently if we are going to build sustainably successful organizations. Ultimately, that’s exactly what this blog asks you to think about: what you’re willing to change to be truly successful. On one hand, this journey involves self-reflection and self-awareness, leading to clarity on your own values and commitments. On the other hand, we will be talking about the willingness to lead differently, to go beyond settings goals, monitoring KPIs and relying mainly on financial results to assess business results.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that financial results don’t matter. Of course they do! But if they were the key drivers they have been made out to be for decades, organizations around the world would not be dealing with the leadership challenges they’re currently facing.
This will not be a collection of 5 things to do to reach organizational success and happiness for all. Sorry. It’s not that easy. The posts will share my thoughts on what could create better outcomes, and I hope to hear your thoughts on the topics I raise. The goal is to stretch us out of the comfort of the known and give us the courage to try new leadership practices that bring humanity back to the workplace so that, ultimately, we create successful organizations where people thrive.
Are you willing to come along?