Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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A Leadership Anecdote Bad or Worse?

     
No man is good enough to govern another man without that other man’s consent. - Abraham Lincoln




Let's start with a story, a real-life example that I came across recently. It put me into contemplation.

There was a team working on all the latest and greatest technologies in the Aviation domain and its leader was taking care of the team very well.

But one sudden day, he got to know that his job is at stake due to organization changes. He started getting worried and also assumed that without him, the team will also not survive (really ?). In this fast pace of corporate life, do organizations depend on one person to run the department. I think he is giving too much importance to himself. Let's keep that aside for a minute.

So the leader called all his next-level leaders and in 1:1 discussion spilled the beans to each leader separately to get their reaction. Don't you think he would have a leadership meeting with all leaders and discuss the next steps? This raised the eyebrows among team members what's cooking up.


He apprised them that the ship is going to sink soon and he himself is looking out for other career opportunities. He recompensed them by assuring that they are free to make their own choices and they will have his full support whatever they may decide either to stay or move on. It all happened in silo rooms. Why? What was his intention? Was his intention to break the team?

After getting such kind of internal news from a leader, it's obvious that some of the team members would start getting worried about their career and start looking for other options.

A few of them started exploring other projects in the same organization and got through all interviews. We need to understand that these members, by now, have made up their minds and move on to different career paths.

Now, you would be thinking that I will be questioning if this was a correct Leadership action. Was it having a good intention for the organization and business? But No; there is a twist in the story.

Suddenly, after 2 months this leader's stars got changed and his current position becomes stable for at least a year. As he is going to continue the position, his vision for the team got changed, now he needs the team to stay back and work for him. He started blocking their move whomever he can by using company contracts and HR policies.

Now, sit back and rewind the whole event. Do you smell a conservative Leadership style here?
I would even say it doesn't fall into any leadership style.

This behavior seems to be of a typical self-centered manager. I am more worried about the mental state of these team members. Will they ever be able to trust this leader? What should they do now? It seems to be an epitome of poor governance from the company that allows it to happen.

First, his probable position loss news should have been discussed as a group meeting with the impacted leaders. Having 1:1 with each individual leader and instigating them to share their next action (move-on or continue) was quite concerning for the team.

Then, when his job got settled, he blocked others to move on. Think about those employees who gave the commitment to other Leaders that they will join their hands in their journey, now have to back out and lose the face. Will this leader ever be able to see eye to eye to these members.

A true leader must always think beyond and above himself. His every action should reflect the caring, passionate, rational, and decisive qualities for both business and team. If his decision also goes southward, his next steps should be back it up in the good wishes for his team members and let them fulfill their commitment which was missing in this story. Blocking someone just because of your own fear to deal with the situation is never a good leadership style. It will damage the working environment of the team for a longer period that cannot be fixed easily.

What's your thought on this anecdote? What would you do if you were in that leader's position?
Feel free to share your thoughts through comments.



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A Leadership Anecdote Bad or Worse?