The Leader’s Responsibility: Don’t Lose Sight Of Those Who Depend On Your Leadership
Leadership Lesson: It’s important to keep track of what others need, following up accordingly to make sure they are getting the ongoing tools, support, and trust they need to make progress, improve performance, and overcome challenges.
How do you keep your ear to the ground as a leader?
As you make your way through your environments, how do you ensure that you remember the things that are pertinent and important, whether they are of a positive, neutral, or negative nature, not losing sight of their relevance.
How do you make sure you’re not taking your eye off the ball?
First, think about it as it applies to you.
It’s important to remember the thoughts, ideas, and drive you had for yourself in your path to date. Regular monitoring and reassessment allow you to track your progress. This is because, even though priorities and the environment may change, it’s important to know where you were, where you are, how things have been going, and, finally, where you want them to go.
In that review, it’s important to take into consideration and monitor both what is in your control and what isn’t. It’s an ongoing process to get you to the best result.
Now, think about it as it applies to others.
Much in the same way you should track the progress of issues that directly affect you, you should also encourage the same assessment and tracking with your workforce and practice it with those you lead directly.
As an example of such tracking, and as a way for you to set the example, as you work with others for a period of time, consider how you keep their concerns in mind. How do you remember what has impacted them as you go?
Do you keep in mind what it is that may be negatively impacting your environment – factors that are concerning to your employees or coworkers?
Too often, leaders and bosses may understand an issue which may be negatively impacting others, but along the way they may lose sight of it, possibly even beginning to question the accountability of their employee. This may happen even though the boss previously understood the issue, its negative effect, and that things were slow to change regarding that issue. Due to growing frustration, impatience, or lack of clarity on the part of the boss, at a certain point, the blame, in that boss’s mind, might shift from the issue and root cause in the environment to the employee and the symptom (the impact on the employee).
So, how do you maintain your clarity of mind to realize what’s what?
Answer these questions:
How do you get to what it is your people need?
It’s important to keep an eye on your environment. This may sound like common sense, but there’s more to seeing the environment before you. This has more to do with what’s going on under the surface than what is evident and what you see every day.
If the actions playing out in front of us are the story, we need to read between the lines and make sure everyone has what they need in order to deliver the best they can.
Make sure you’re having real, honest, and open conversations with your employees. It’s important to make sure we’re getting to the core of people’s thoughts, as much as reasonably possible.
How do you address what is needed?
Once you get a sense for what’s really going on in the environment – employee concerns, environmental obstacles, subtle but distracting relationship dynamics – it’s important to get as much information and understanding about the issue as possible.
It doesn’t matter how much time it takes to resolve the issue. The most important part up until that point is the acknowledgement that something is going on and something is off. Only by truly understanding and seeing what is going on can you move forward to plan how to address and resolve it.
How do you plan out what needs to happen to correct the issue?
Now that the issue has been acknowledged, it’s important to outline what has to happen in order to mitigate – and, hopefully, eliminate – its negative impact on the environment. It’s important to make a note of who needs to do what in order for the problem to be resolved.
Everyone who is involved in the issue should have an understanding of what is happening and what role they can play in the resolution. True understanding of responsibility at the beginning ensures effective and timely, corrective action can be taken along the path to resolution.
How do you track the progress made?
Now that everyone knows what they need to do, it is important to follow up and make sure progress is being made. Pointing out the issue and planning its resolution are pointless without any kind of status tracking.
How do you follow up in regular intervals?
It’s also important to recognize that status updates need to take place on a regular basis to assure – and reassure — all parties involved that the resolution is trending in the right direction and that the chances of a relapse are minimal. Interval updates also provide enough time to refocus the course of corrective action before the point of no return is reached and the issue has done its irreparable damage.
Does your attitude change toward those needs?
You need to make sure you continue to understand the weight of the issue. The biggest risk with problems that may be burdening employees is that leaders’ attitudes may slip or change, resulting in the supportive nature or understanding the leader demonstrated at the beginning of the issue being lost. As a result, the employee can begin to feel abandoned as time goes on.
All of these actions assume that the employee is pulling their own weight, doing what they can, and demonstrating their own accountability.
That being said, it’s important to not lose sight of the issues facing those who follow you and work with you. It demonstrates commitment when you’re able to remember what it was that caused issues for someone, check in on them, and demonstrate that you’re invested with them to overcome the obstacle.
It does take some extra steps and some time, but demonstrating this commitment builds your credibility with others. The person you’re working with understands that you will go to bat for them, while others who are witnessing your commitment will recognize your work in helping others get to where they want to go.
Don’t be blind to the needs of others. Don’t miss the mark.
Maybe you can’t make the environment or the experience perfect for someone, but showing them you’re committed to trying to improve it is just as powerful.