When Sarah became the operations manager at a bank in town, she distanced herself from her subordinates. She had read a lot of management books that warned against getting close to the team.
She believed that being detached would enable her focus and make business decisions without outside influence.
She thought that this process must occur away from the action, to avoid the noise, pressure and other problems that would detract her ability to think clearly. Sarah received most communications from her team via email and made little physical contact with them. Unfortunately, things did not work out.
Every day she got more frustrated as challenges she faced with the team escalated. She realised that leading from behind a desk in an air-conditioned office was leading her down the drain. One morning, Sarah threw away her management books and spent more time with her team. She took interest in all of them without neglecting her other duties.
The team helped pull each member through professional and personal crises. Each passing day, she nurtured them like her own children. The more she nurtured them, the more they produced and became more passionate about their work. Nobody missed a deadline and the feedback from clients was outstanding. In less than six months, the once stormy work environment was bright.
I am not talking about being a ‘good guy’ and patting people on the back, but being unafraid to be with your team. Looking them in the eye, helping them when possible and listening to them. It is not important that they like or think of you as a “good guy.”
What matters is the respect accorded you and what they think of you as a person willing to share their victories and defeats. There is a place for contemplative thinking and measured analysis in leadership.
But many leaders have their priorities all wrong. A leader must get out to where the action is, where those who are doing the actual work are making things happen.
The writer is a leadership
consultant and team leader
of Winning Choices