“1. When you mention that there is a leadership effectiveness problem, many people automatically believe that the problem is poor leaders. There exist a natural human tendency to blame problems on low performers. We like to assign a scapegoat as the source of any problems. This can turn into witch-hunts for the ‘bad’ leaders. Frequently many of the ‘bad’ leaders are new, inexperienced supervisors who need time and training to develop. It is more tempting to ferret out the bad leaders than to face a reality. The troubling tendency was most aptly expressed by Walt Kelly’s comic strip character, Pogo, when he often observed, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’
Blaming bad leaders is a simple solution. It is much more difficult to accept that the problem with leadership is the need for everyone to undertake some level of improvement. Those who are good could have a substantial positive impact on the organization if they moved from good to great.
2. Training programs often send a false impression. When organizations sponsor trying programs positioned to take bad leaders and make them into good leaders, it unwittingly sends the signal that those leaders who are currently in the ‘good’ category can coast. Beyond that, most supervisory and management training courseware designed to develop basic leadership skills. The focus is on acquiring and understanding the fundamental skills required in a leadership role. Many leaders act as if the introductory course in a series in the only course that exists or is necessary for them. We are aware of only a handful of corporate development programs targeted specifically to make good people great.
3. Many 360-degree leadership assessments compare leader’ results and show how they compare to the average. The unintended message that most leaders get from the assessments is that if you are in the mid-range, ‘You are okay and okay is good enough.’
On 1: The opposite is also true in that poor leaders find ways to eliminate those who are not. One example is the IT vice president who was extremely knowledgeable in that area, yet was singled out by others for elimination. Instead of supporting this individual the CEO fired him. The IT VP had some communication issues which could have been corrected with a strong CEO, which unfortunately he, CEO, was not.
On 2: Again, without strong leadership at the top of the organization the management training courses are attended (for appearance sake), but the culture blocked any assimilation into brain or heart, and the CEO fell in line. Funny how often the weak and the butt-kissers rise in an organization. Funny as in, ‘we have met the enemy and……’
On 3: The only 360 assessment I took was done personally. None of the organizations I worked for employed them. Again, the culture won out.
There is great enjoyment, for me, to observe cultures wherever I go. Not enjoyment in a positive way; a very sad “enjoyment” (provides tons of material for this blog). Some employees do rise above the negative culture, but most do not. The reasons are many, and you probably could name most, if not all, of them.
Next: The Extraordinary Leader
Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders
WHAT CAUSES GOOD LEADERS TO BE UNCHALLENGED TO CHANGE