By Paul Kaye
April 3, 2018
Controlling bosses, a thing of the past?
I had dinner with a colleague this week. As you would expect between acquaintances working in the same industry, our conversation touched on our current work-related experiences, our challenges, our hopes and our fears for the years ahead. My friend spoke at length about their current struggle; a boss that loves control. A boss comfortable issuing directives, orders and instructions. A boss that loves to put their stamp on every last detail. A boss that favors their ideas over the ideas of others; they’re the boss, so they surely have the best ideas! A boss that always has the final word. A boss that takes the credit and doesn’t share the perks. A boss that ultimately diminishes the contributions of those around them.
The problem? This type of management style is counterproductive to success. It’s even more detrimental in a workplace full of millennials. This type of management is a relic left from the old days but in the fast-moving, ever-evolving world we live in now, this approach is not the best path to achieving your goals. Among many managers, there is a misguided belief that because you have climbed to a position of status that you are expected to do all the important work and make all the important decisions. That’s why you’re paid the big bucks after all! This misguided belief leads managers to think that those beneath them do not have the intellectual capacity to deal with the important work or make the important decisions; they haven’t earned the right or proven themselves. A manager who operates like this believes that they have intellectual superiority over their subordinates. A manager who holds these types of assumptions causes the operation to slow down. They build processes and procedures to make sure they have final sign off on every last detail. Nothing happens without their say so. They have veto powers over everyone and everything under their watch. This ‘individual’ approach can cause rot to occur within the culture that can ultimately begin the erosion of the entire business. People don’t want to – nor do they have to – work for people who behave in this manner. Managers who operate in this way will find that today they struggle to attract the best talent, and certainly struggle to retain the great talent they currently have.
In today’s environment, we will continue to be asked to do more with fewer resources, and to achieve your desired results you’re going to need to foster the power of the collective. Engaging those around you to contribute their thoughts, ideas and opinions I believe is a pre-requisite for winning in today’s world. Empowering those around you to make decisions without your involvement should become the norm. Think about it this way, the collective power of every mind on your team can surely generate more ideas than you can create alone. I would go as far as saying your team has more intellectual resource than you even realize; you just haven’t unlocked it from them. Today’s successful leader understands the power of harnessing all the intellectual power and skills that exist within the team. A leader today unlocks the capacity of the team to achieve their goals.
Today it is the fundamental requirement of the leader to include the entire team, and to embrace the power of the collective. Leaders who believe in this approach consult, develop, explore, delegate, challenge and champion. They delegate assignments and projects that stretch those on their team. They focus on the continual development of each team member because as they get stronger, so does the entire organisation. They work with the collective to explore what is working and what isn’t; it is through this exploration that new insights are found and problems are solved. They set challenges, or offer problems, for their teams to solve. They avoid telling their people what to do and instead provide a vision of what the desired outcome should be. They then step back and allow the team to find their own way forward. Before making decisions they seek input and consult others; in particular they seek to involve those who are closest to the actual problem – or consumer – as they appreciate the fact that their observations are likely more accurate, useful and meaningful.
Telling people what to do is not going to cut it anymore. People gravitate to be around leaders who empower, engage and challenge their teams to do more than they can imagine. I have often wondered: What the impact would be if we judged the quality of leaders by their people and not their results? That may be unrealistic but what if we shifted the focus and made people development carry more gravitas than the results a leader achieved? Surely we would see happy, hard-working individuals giving more to achieving the vision than anyone thought was possible. You would find more collaboration and see more innovation. You’d create an environment that put people under pressure to perform, but didn’t stress them out. You would create the type of environment that today’s best talent gravitate toward. Wouldn’t that be nice? Talent knocking on your door wanting to work for you!
Culture comes from behavior. How you as a leader choose to behave gives cues to those around you about what is acceptable and expected. If you want to harness the power of the collective you need to first believe that it really is the right thing to be doing. Your team can – and will – spot a fake. You have to look deep – uncomfortably deep – inside yourself and ask “Do I really believe this?” “Am I just embracing this because it sounds like the right thing to do?” If you don’t truly believe then no one around you will, and your team will be weary of what you’re doing; “Is this a trick?” You will breed uncertainty, skepticism and fear into the team. If you truly believe and see the value in this leadership approach, then your next step is to start modelling the desired behaviors; stop issuing orders, directives and instruction and focus on consulting, delegating, challenging and championing.
The individual approach is dead. Long live the power of the collective!
Paul Kaye is Vice President, Product and Talent Development for Rogers in Canada. Paul spends his days working with stations and talent across all formats with a sole focus on helping improve performance and growing the business. Prior to being at Rogers Paul held the role of National Talent Development Director for Newcap Radio and also a Group Programming role in England. Paul is a certified coach and is passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations reach their greatest potential, which is the fuel behind his other project The Talent Lab. Paul lives in Toronto with his wife, 2 dogs and a cat – life is never quiet! You can reach Paul at [email protected]