Let me provide another perspective on good leadership – to stop behaviours that alienate potential allies, demoralise talented and committed people. Simply stated, eliminating bad habits that prevent you from becoming as successful as you could possibly be. These are not flaws of skills or limitations in intelligence that are too late to fix for a smarter you. They are behavioural flaws, annoyances that reduce your effectiveness and therefore can be corrected with an acknowledgement and a little effort.
Even though leaders realise that most of their subordinates know more in specific areas than they ever will, an overwhelming desire to add their two cents to every discussion is one such cruel habit. Excessive value addition it is called. Common in people used to running the show, this top down management style believes in telling everyone what to do.
Successful people have a tough time listening to other people’s ideas without suggesting alternatives or a better one or commenting they already thought of it. The impact is quite disastrous. You could easily say “Great idea!” and stop there. But if you value add, you may improve the content by 5% and reduce the employees commitment to executing it by 50%. Just because it has the effect of transfer of ownership of the idea to the boss.
Suddenly the feeling is that your idea is not your own any more. It is that of the leader and you walk out of the office less enthused about it than when you walked in. Whatever is gained in the form of some betterment is lost many times over in the diminished commitment of the employee to the concept. That’s the cost of added value. Or shall we say price of Value Deletion!
Nobody is suggesting or expecting that the bosses zip their lips just to keep the spirits of their staff from sagging. What is required is to figure out a method of handing out encouragement to the team. And to comment just appropriately, nothing more! A good way to prevent yourself from making a statement is to take a deep breath and ask – who, if anyone, will be benefitted from what you are about to say.
If we can provide a mechanism of encouraging our employees to come up with newer stuff and support execution, it may well lay the foundation of an extremely innovative organisation. And in this world of shrinking product lifecycles, that will be a tremendous sustainability solution!
Just be very conscious of how and when to value add…