Archive for September, 2010
Two more common mistakes that Hans Finzel, respected leadership consultant, counsels today’s leaders to avoid are those of dictator style decision making and lame, ineffective delegation.
Dictatorship in Decision Making
Calm, quiet and predictable. Sounds attractive on the surface. However, if that atmosphere is because the organization’s leaders think that only they are qualified to determine direction, only they have the answers, then the atmosphere is actually one of oppression. The dictator decision-makers deny the individual value (much like those who put paperwork before people-work). The human spirit, naturally creative, is broken.
Scenario: You’ve put together a wonderful new process for recruiting and on-boarding. You worked hard, gathered input from stakeholders and vested yourself in it. Then the leader(s) decided it wasn’t what they would do, they’d rather something completely different. No discussion, no dialogue – just dictatorship!
All the positive energies and great focus dissipated with the words: “It’s been decided…” Please avoid being this kind of leader! In Finzel’s opinion, it works so much better to give employees:
- Reasons for implementing decisions
- Opportunities to consult with them prior to decisions that pertain to and affect their roles
- Encouragement to offer their opinions and constructive criticism of key decisions
- Chances for reasonable explanations
The flip side of dictatorship in decision making is team leadership. As Peter Drucker said, “The leaders who work most effectively… never say ‘I.’ They think ‘team.’ ‘We’ gets the credit. There is identification with the task and with the group. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
In our consulting roles, Barbara and I have found Drucker’s words to be true. We agree that effective leadership is teamwork, coaching, creativity and the synergy that results when the leader inspires a group of people. When we redesign teams based on these principles, we delight in improved communications, work flows and delegation – and the excitement in their voices when we hear “We did it!”
Nothing is more frustrating than sloppy delegation. That is, delegation that’s not truly delegation because of all the strings attached. The employee simply cannot succeed because they weren’t given the space, or the trust, to do so. Finzel says such delegation demonstrates over managing, and it’s one of the cardinal sins of poor leadership.
Through the years, Barbara and I have learned that when you delegate duties, you must remember that you are not also delegating ultimate responsibility. Choose those to whom you delegate carefully. Sloppy delegation leads to disaster. It has haunted both of us when we, unfortunately, did not match the task assigned to an employee with solid follow-through ability.
Leaders who don’t delegate at all? Worse. Fear of losing authority, of depending on others, or losing “value” in the organization dominates each decision. Unsurprisingly, they often burn out, as well.
Feel the freedom! Delegate! Proper delegation enables personal ownership, inspires and motivates, leading to ideas that otherwise would never surface. It develops your workforce, because they feel vested in the organization and its direction. Practice these four stages of delegation:
- Assignment—choose the right people for the job, make their duties clear.
- Authority—exhibit confidence and give them authority to develop their ideas.
- Accountability—make them accountable, and don’t forget that you are ultimately accountable for choosing them in the first place!
- Affirmation—Stay in touch, give and receive feedback, give them room to fail, but praise and give credit for work well done.
If you missed our previous “Top Ten Mistakes” blogs, check them out. We’ve explored: The Top-Down Attitude, Putting Paperwork before People-work, The Absence of Affirmation and De-motivating the Mavericks, over the last few weeks.
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head—that is assault, not leadership.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower
Last blog, we explored The Top-Down Attitude, and Putting Paperwork before People-work, two of Hans Finzel’s top ten mistakes. The respected leadership consultant hits the nail on the head time and again. Consider the next two:
The Absence of Affirmation
Research proves it over and again: affirmation motivates people more than financial incentives. Finzel reiterates it in his book. Back in college, a basic business class touted this fact, and I’ve never forgotten it, making affirmation part of my management method with staff.
The simplest words can make or break a situation. Just the other day, a client called to share the contents of an early morning email – a new employee quit. The employee shared that while she tried her best during the first two weeks of training, another employee made her feel unworthy. So much so that she quit without having another job – quite a risk in today’s employment market, as well as a strong statement on the situation.
Her actions drive home the point that people need encouragement the most at the outset of a new job or role. If only the other employee had instead chosen to say, “Don’t get discouraged, I know it’s a lot, it will get easier.” Or even a simple “Thanks for being part of the team.” Maybe the email wouldn’t exist.
Who really loses in this situation? Yes, the employee who quit loses. But the practice loses as well – recruiting, hiring and onboarding are time consuming, costly endeavors. Plus, the employee who quit may share her experience with others. If the critical employee is not counseled, expect a repeat performance. A few simple yet powerful practices need to become part of that person’s daily interactions:
- Be motivated to look for the good in others and in all situations
- When you find the good, point it out
- Thank people publicly and sincerely
- Remember everyone thrives on affirmation and praise
De-motivating the Mavericks
Maverick: “an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.” Creative types who often have a hard time fitting into rigid bureaucracies – mavericks need the freedom to fly with ideas. Older organizations that have less room for the gifted, and those that focus too strenuously on policy, procedure and conformity, often squeeze out some of their most gifted people. This is tragic, because the “messy” maverick is essential to the creative energy of an organization – and only creative companies thrive.
If a “leader” has used these phrases – often used to put mavericks “in their place” – on you, you may just be a maverick!
- “That’s impossible”
- “I wish it were that easy”
- “How dare you suggest what we’re doing is wrong?”
- “That’s too radical a change for us”
The easiest way to kill a maverick is to send their idea(s) to committee. That’s a sure-fire method of stifling your brightest stars – endless committees, procedures and paperwork. In fact, those are the primary reasons Barbara and I struck out on our own, founding Derry, Nolan and leaving the world of corporate medicine behind. Two of our favorite comments about committees pretty much sum it up:
- A committee keeps minutes and wastes hours!
- A committee is a collection of individuals who separately do nothing and together decide that nothing can be done.
By Crystal Nolan, MHA, FACMPE
“I’m looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what can’t be done.” —Henry Ford
Derry, Nolan & Associates’ healthcare and medical practice consultants can help your healthcare organization – medical practice, clinic or integrated healthcare system – with leadership recruitment, interim management, on-boarding and customer service training.