We are currently under a crisis of leadership as a nation. One need only look to our Presidential Candidates, to see how truly bad this crisis is. I mean really… THIS is the best our nation has to offer?!
Now, take this grand-scale example down to the local level, into our businesses and communities. We have more conflict and competition than ever before. Territorialism, manipulation, more with less, bullying, silos and political power plays are more prevalent in today’s job cultures than ever before.
Demands for higher profits and lower overhead, continue to squeeze budgets. Add to that, four generations are working alongside one another in the workforce with varying values and perspectives. These and other stressful demands have culminated in a resounding cry for better leadership and more humanity in our work culture.
Before, we talk about the tools and resources that turn bad bosses into “High Performing Leaders”, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the conditions that influenced common leadership failures and the real impact they create, rather than those intended, likely by well-meaning people.
When the name of the “game” is increase shareholder value, the only ones to benefit are shareholders and those at the very top of the organization. The pressure to continue to increase profits and decrease costs, includes vendor choices, location of services, employee compensation, benefits, and facilities (to name a few of the larger more recognizable overhead costs). Therefore, the persons in charge targets vendors who can maximize their profit by using decision-making criteria of “least cost for a minimally acceptable product”.
When profit is at the center of every decision and relationship made, we can’t help but to compromise humanity. Unfortunately, we have been temporarily lulled to accept, that’s just the way it is. (Here again, I’m reminded of the similarities, with our current presidential candidate pool.)
However, I’m confident in our future and have high hopes for the end of apathy. In fact, many are beginning to challenge the 9-5 concept, ultimately seeking and finding flexibility to manage competing demands. The Millennial generation is entering the workforce with a whole new perspective and value set that has many questioning how they are going to attract and retain their talent. Meanwhile, Boomers are beginning to leave in droves and taking with them 20 and 30 years of institutional knowledge, due to lack of systems to retain and share the knowledge.
These current and emerging conditions combined with influences of multiple generations in the workforce will rapidly change the structure of how work will be accomplished, as well as, the employer/employee relationship. High demands for flexible scheduling by Millennials, combined with advancements in technology and a desire to limit office space costs, has many more taking advantage of working remotely. This obviously creates its own set of performance and leadership challenges.
If all that weren’t enough to make you swallow hard and consider how these changes may impact you, then hold onto your hat because, the extent of our leadership crisis may be alarming to you.
Consider that the Veteran or Senior demographic ethos or belief system was to reach back and apprentice, mentor and support the following generation of Boomers with leadership development. The Boomers benefited, grew and adopted a live to work mentality that elevated them quickly. However, no one expected the down-turn in the economy after the prosperous 80’s and early 90’s.
Boomers began holding onto their jobs with a death-grip, for fear the younger generation, Gen X, will replace them for less pay. Consequently there was little-to-no reach back of mentoring and apprenticeship in mass as there was for Boomers. The economic downturn also effected the availability of training funds to the extent, training was seen as “a luxury that could no longer be afforded”. (I’m reminded of the famous question between CFO and CEO, “What if we train them and they leave, asked the CFO? What if we don’t train them and they stay, asked the CEO?”)
The result? We now have two generations soon to assume leadership roles by the majority and they have had little to no formal or informal leadership development!
The crisis continues… but, only if we refuse to do anything about it!
Now, the solution. How do we turn bad bosses and autocratic leaders into “High Performing Leaders”?
- Check your gut. Verify gut feelings of leadership challenges in your workforce with a thorough assessment of your Leaders’ impact on employees’ performance, productivity, retention and health. (assessments)
- Take a fresh look under the numbers. Challenge yourself to understand what the numbers are telling you. Numbers can say anything we want them to, but feelings don’t lie. Get to the feelings that made the numbers.
- Commitments are to capabilities, not constriction. When building out the plan of approach and structure to support improvement efforts, be sure not to unnecessarily constrict yourself with false conditions of “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Free yourself and your staff to consider any idea during brainstorming. Discuss individual expectations of a leader and followers. Invest in a strong Leadership Program that creates real behavioral change, not “edutainment experiences”. (or don’t and continue to receive what’s minimally acceptable)
- Create a testing ground. Thoroughly engage stakeholders in the vetting of the new approach, by being involved in the planning and decision-making. Consider starting with a pilot group, a small subsection of the larger group to work out any minor issues in the processes.
- Roll Out and Evaluate. Create a launch, implementation and communication plan for all stakeholders and seek their continuous input during implementation and testing periods.
- Celebrate! Take the time, it matters. You’ve worked hard. You’ve grown and developed a new way of relating to all your stakeholders and developed new leaders, which will be sure to attract BEST IN INDUSTRY TALENT and CONSCIOUS LEADERS to drive continuous growth, with an equal share of humanity, behind every decision.
Leadership is not a position, role or authority figure. Leadership is action taken and assessed by our influence on followers and stakeholders. High Performance Leaders bring out the best in their followers, minimizing weaknesses, and creating mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders, on top of setting the vision for everyone to follow.
While there is no magic bullet or one size fits all solution to our nation’s leadership crisis, every effort to create awareness and educate others in a conscious approach to leadership will benefit our workforce, colleagues, community and even society at large.
Ryan P. McShane
Ryan serves as a Human Resources Consultant and Vice President/COO of Marc3Solutions, www.marc3solutions.com, operating under Conscious Capitalism Principles of Higher Purpose, Conscious Leadership, Conscious Culture and Stakeholder Orientation.
Passionate about helping individuals and organizations evolve to reach their highest potential, through HR consulting, career development, professional assessments and high performance leadership solutions.
Enjoys preparing organizations to create Generational, Pro-active, Workforce Solutions to include capturing institutional knowledge, phased retirement, cross-training, job redesign, succession planning and outplacement