As an executive coach, I work with leaders who get it done! You know what I mean? They’ve risen to leadership positions in their organization by achieving all-star results as an individual contributor to the business. These are the people who stood head and shoulders above the rest. They produced their way into leadership. I’ve found that some of these leaders have carried a faulty assumption with them their entire career. They believe that what got them into a leadership position will be enough to help them keep a leadership position. Never realizing that everything changes when you go from managing yourself to leading others.
In 1999, I took my first leadership role. I believed the key to my team’s success was for them to adopt the same habits, disciplines, beliefs, and practices that got me into the position of being their leader. I even thought that since I knew the business so well, the biggest contribution I could make as a leader was in the area of products and processes. I assessed the horsepower of each individual and decided I needed to focus on getting everyone up to speed on how to do more and try harder. You can imagine how this went- I took personal responsibility for their work being done “right”. Gosh, how demotivating was I!! Can you imagine what it must have been like for me to give my wisdom and critique to every piece of copy that was written, every idea that was shared, every proposal that was made? I was even arrogant enough to think I was making them better people and enhancing their skills the whole time! Boy, was I wrong!
What I really accomplished was producing a culture of fear where no one felt confident in his or her own abilities. They certainly weren’t confident enough to share with me that I was suffocating everyone on the team with my micromanagement. Micromanagement: what a word. It sounds worse than a root canal to me! Most people don’t set out as a leader to intentionally micromanage team and shut everyone down in the process. But without intentionally doing something different, that’s where I ended up. Long ago I believed you were micromanaging if you did the work for people. I know now that I can micromanage with my facial expressions, tone of voice, and even my body language. The worst part was my team was afraid of me and I didn’t even know it! I’m not an angry guy. I don’t yell, scream, or punish by taking assignments away, none of that stuff. Yet, I still created a culture of fear.
Looking back I see clearly what I was missing. I believed I was serving others but I was really serving myself. All my actions were designed to make me look good. This wasn’t intentional, but it was habit. I was used to doing things to make me look good. That was how I got promoted! You look good by doing more than others do, longer than other do, producing more results than others do. When I moved to leading people, I was carrying on the same as before, except now I was having an affect on other people and not just having conversation in my own head! In those days, my attitude was a barrier to the very goals I was trying to help the organization achieve! It wasn’t until I confronted the brutal facts of how my behavior was affecting the team that things began to change.
The attitude of the leader shapes the atmosphere of the team. How I behave either increases loyalty or decreases it. It either increases faith or it increases fear. It either increases productivity or it decreases productivity. Which team has a better shot performing at the highest level- one afraid of their leader or one who has faith in their leader? Rhetorical question.
If you want to increase the performance of your team you’ll need to eliminate any fear residing in your team’s heart. Here are practical questions for building faith in your team that you can start using today.
3 Questions That Eliminate Fear And Build Faith In Your Leadership
How about you? I’d like to hear what you’ve found effective for increasing faith in your leadership. Share you thoughts and comments.
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their behaviors. Want more leadership growth opportunities? Visit ww.wshane.com
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
“Shane has the ability to frame a conversation in a way that brings a thought or concept full circle. He’s excellent at tying each session together, which helped me recognize a pattern of growth. He’s not a “teacher”; he’s a discussion facilitator…in other words these sessions aren’t built around Shane teaching concepts. This method of facilitation opens the door for personal application, which is critical to this development process. He asked questions that forced me to think with intention.”
- G. Williams, Product Manager
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.