Four Dumb Things Smart Leaders Do That Hinder Employee Engagement
I was reminded, during a recent team meeting, that successful leadership is often about simple practices and straight-forward behaviors.
If leadership practices are complicated, you’re doing it wrong.
You don’t have to be a genius to be a successful leader.
Business decisions might be complicated, but leadership practices are generally simple.
Why smart leaders do dumb things:
In some area of your leadership you’re a singer who thinks they can sing, but can’t. If you ever watched a talent show, you know that people can sincerely believe they are talented when they aren’t. The illusion of competence holds smart leaders back.
Smart leaders do dumb things when they stop learning.
Perhaps you think acknowledging you aren’t good at something is a sign of weakness. But you don’t realize how dumb you look when you pretend you don’t have weaknesses.
You know you’re a pretender when others do things wrong and you always do things right.
Four dumb things smart leaders do that hinder employee engagement:
#1. Competent people disengage when you tell them what to do.
Incompetent novices enjoy being told what to do. Competent managers resent it.
You might generate a list of possible actions WITH competent managers. But give them the choice of actions they plan to take.
#2. Competent people disengage when you tell them how to do their job.
The best way to offend competent managers is telling them how to do their job.
#3. Competent people disengage when you ask for too many updates.
Distrust drives control freaks.
Requiring daily updates from competent people is a sure sign you have trust issues.
Trust maximizes potential. Distrust undermines talent.
#4. Competent people disengage when you don’t notice good work.
Work that isn’t noticed loses it’s value.
What dumb things might smart leaders do that hinder employee engagement?
(This post is inspired by insights from a team of General Managers.)
Dan — You too deserved to be noticed for your good work! There are many of us that very much value and appreciate your daily dose of ideas, insight, and inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!
Wow! Thank you Gerry. You’re very kind and good at encouraging.
Thank you for another great piece, Dan. Controlling and trying to be “perfect” are the two things that immediately came to my mind. We hire professionals who are capable but fail to let them do their work. Once a professional feels like a puppet, we lose them.
Thanks Berna. Your last sentence says it all. I can recall times I felt like someone was trying to stuff their hand up my back. It frustrating and demoralizing when we let that happen.
Thanks much, Dan!
Good managers don’t complicate leadership. Good leadership is communication, clarity, effort and perspective.
Thanks Glenn. I suppose we should remember that simple is not always easy. 🙂
In my experience, employees can become disengaged when management never requests their input. Many of us “in the trenches” have knowledge and insights that would be valuable if brought into the decision-making process. Thankful for good managers who recognize the tribal knowledge of their staff.
Thanks Kris. Wonderful insight. The people in the trenches usually know better than the people in the conference room. It’s easy to multiply complexity when you aren’t actually doing the work.
Ineffective leaders don’t do a good job of diagnosing the situation and proving what’s needed.
—they provide too much or too little direction.
—they impose too many controls or too few controls
—they use too many carrots and not enough sticks when needed
—they over delegate or under delegate
Proper balance is needed.
Leaders need to adapt to the situation and provide what’s need to motivate the person and get the task done.
Thanks Paul. Your point is important. How much checking-in is another place where balance is essential. I often bristle at balance. In some situations it’s mediocrity in disguise. But you point out the necessity of balancing our approach by the people we’re interacting with. One size doesn’t fit all.
The Key is understanding the people you work with.
These are fun. I especially like the one about not being recognized for the value one brings. People easily disengage with that happens, or worse yet, when a leader takes credit for the employee’s work. Booh!!
Thanks John. Good seeing you today. I hope you are doing well. The tragedy is noticing other people’s value isn’t rocket science. Cheers.
“Competent people disengage when you don’t notice good work.”
This is a great symptom of zero-defect systems. When absolute perfection, every time, all the time, is the expectation, good work is never praised because “good” doesn’t even reach the minimum expected standard.
Why try if you can’t get there?
There is a difference between not enjoying being told what to do and being micromanaged in tasks or being told how to do it. Generalizing that competent people don’t like being told what to do is not necessarily an absolute. In my line of work my experience is that its not telling them “the what to do that drives the old salts nuts but the how to do it.”
Thanks Bob. I’m glad you chimed in. It’s impossible to hit all the exceptions and possibilities in 300 words.
(Sorry If posted twice )
Many leaders do not offer themselves the same tolerance for making mistakes; a high amount of lack of self-efficacy intimidates some persons in education. This poor self-efficacy is especially noticeable in knowledgeable persons, and school and learning came easy.
Some of these people have always profited from learning. When confronted with anything unexpected or outside of their comfort zone, these people frequently become defensive and routinely shut off.
Those who need to work and have struggled may find it simpler to overcome obstacles. I want to emphasize the relevance of the core principle of the post, which is that it is silly to believe you are without flaws and that acknowledging mistakes is a show of weakness.
A strong leader will want to contribute to the creation of a positive culture in the school community. A great leader must be willing to listen to others’ perspectives and seek aid when necessary to develop a strong culture through effective teamwork. I have been in education for 13 years and have worked with several administrations, including principals and district personnel. Most of these people favour engagement and a growth mindset in their leaders. However, those who micromanage may not trust their colleagues’ talents, which is guaranteed to destroy employee engagement and diminish self-efficacy. People must believe in their leaders, and leaders must believe in their followers.
Dan, I love this one!
Thanks Bob. Cheers