It was clear that as time passed few were going to accept and apply the principles taught in class. Leaders set the tone for what is and is not acceptable, and this CEO set the tone by resuming his usual pattern of sitting by the phone, conducting closed door meetings, and the like. No attempt was made to reinforce the principles taught in class.
Efforts to change behavior of poor supervisors were met with the usual mindless responses from staff (“too much to do, not a good time to make a change….”) while employees were dumbfounded by lack of action. Employee complaints were associated with the cost of the training, absent bosses sitting in a room yucking it up over coffee and donuts, and wasting valuable time. What else could be expected with so little change in management behavior?
Then the situation did change as the “old guard” (those who saw anyone who was not from “their world” as incompetent and/or a threat) began working on ways to rid their company of them. Unfortunately their “plan” cost the company some very good people (e.g., a young engineer who was exceptionally bright, focused and a hard worker). He wasn’t on the old guard’s list, but he was astute enough to realize what was going to happen. The staff member who wrote the “Systems” portion of the Leadership Behavior Model; the only one who knew how the “system” worked got the axe shortly after I did.
What was upsetting/bothering/irritating the old guard? Simply, change. The common denominator in all of us that resists the unknown. This “old guard” liked it that way it was, saw no reason to adapt to a new way of thinking, and the CEO and board accepted their way of thinking. The “old guard” had developed the rhetoric to sell their idea (e.g. “going to destroy the company”) so it was a “done deal”. Vindictiveness and other negative behaviors were certainly part of it.
Message? Leaders are not part of the “good old boys club”. The quote I use often (“Leaders are like eagles; they don’t flock; you find them one at a time”) is built into the “fabric” of my discussions in this blog.
Leaders need to rise above the daily routine, focus on mission, vision, and surround themselves with those who understand and accept what needs to be done to achieve them. Set expectations, goals, accountabilities, and follow up and follow through on them. In my career I rarely saw that behavior in companies. Leadership is a lonely place to be, but it has to be that way to ensure correct thought, and resist undue influence from others who have personal agendas unrelated to success for an organization and employees.
Next: Wooden On Leadership
John Wooden’s 12 Lessons In Leadership