|Photo Courtesy of Dstma via Compfight|
"To lead people, walk beside them...As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear, and the next, the people hate.. When the best leader's work is done the people say, "We did it ourselves!" - Lao Tsu
I have a confession to make. We have an artificial Christmas tree complete with integrated lights and branches that pop right out. No watering, no dry needles, no wonderful pine smells, probably no authentic Christmas spirit.. As a gardener, I should probably have a real evergreen inside for the holidays but I have always had a tough time even cutting my flowers to bring inside! I prefer to be outside enjoying them and avoiding the house when it's nice out! Surprising, I don't even have a lot of indoor plants. The ones that I do have tend to ask for little attention and scare the bugs away! I prefer to enjoy my garden as a whole and love to watch everything interact. This year I have vowed to decorate with more live greenery to bring more of the outside in.
This is a popular time for families to forge out and find that perfect Christmas tree. They bundle up and often make a full day of searching for the best tree that they can find. They cut it themselves and take care in carting it home while hoping that it fits in the house! The tree is lovingly watered and cared for until THE big day and then... all is forgotten.... out with the tree and in with Valentines Day. Next week I will give you some tips on finding the right tree and caring for it so that you can enjoy it into the new year.
Christmas trees can take anywhere from 7-15 years to grow, only to be cut down for a few special weeks in December. We don't think too much of cutting a tree for the holidays and it's such a priceless tradition throughout the world. Our tradition continues automatically every year, often with certain rituals being passed down through generations. As I watched my neighbors come home with their huge live tree this week a thought popped into my mind. Sometimes we don't even think twice about cutting things down. Guess what? Too many leaders cut their people down without a thought or without even realizing it!
Are you a leader unwittingly cutting your people down?
I have worked for both effective and just plain bad managers. Like many of our teachers back in school, we tend to remember the teachers that stood out and made a difference to us and really remember with vivid details the worst teachers ever. Surprisingly, they get worse over the years when we think back.....One of the best leaders that I ever worked for knew how to light up a room with his energy and positive attitude. He empowered us and allowed us the freedom to do our job. He encouraged us to learn from our mistakes and backed us up when we needed the support. I could easily talk to him about my frustrations without fear of reprisal. My worst boss? She was very threatened by her team. She looked for mistakes and picked on the little things. She micromanaged and jumped into matters that she didn't need to. In short, she made everyone miserable and no one respected her. We never knew when she would strike and it was tough to love our jobs and to perform our best. Neither of these leaders were "bad" people at heart (there was some debate on this in our team however). They probably didn't even realize how they were coming across to their teams. In my worst boss's case I hope that she didn't consciously try to cut people down. Don't be this type of leader - Don't cut your people down!
You could be cutting your team down if......
- You whine or complain too much about systems, people, progress, your problems
- You are negative and closed minded
- You deliberately deceive others for personal gain or for your own career growth. You take credit and push blame
- You are arrogant or have a deflated ego
- You act like a dictator and micromanage
- Keep to the status quo. Don't fall into the trap of saying "That's how we do things here". Be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Don't belittle new methods
- You aren't accountable. Stand up and take responsibility
- Make empty threats or don't follow through on your commitments
- Ignore the truth, data, feelings
- Yell or scream
- Don't thank people and recognize their gifts and accomplishments
- You cut people down in a group and publicly humiliate them to make a point
- You sugar coat feedback
- Do what is wrong or stretch the truth
- You can't self manage or self lead
- Have no emotional IQ or are inflexible in showing empathy
- Ignore team strengths and individual gifts
- Can't adapt to or encourage change
- Are over reactive and prefer to put out fires as they flare up
- Can't communicate or won't foster stronger skills
- Put teams or people in boxes
- Churn people rather than develop them
- Put processes first and can't foresee the need to step off of your path
Is this YOU? Are you cutting down your people without realizing it? If so - STOP! Go through this list and add your own weaknesses. It's not easy and not a lot of people can actually go through this process. Make a growth plan and address any areas where you are having a negative impact on your team. ASK for feedback and be strong enough to "take" the truth.
You can't keep cutting down trees in the forest and think that you will grow the group unless you are planting and nourishing new growth in your people. What will you start working on today?
|Photo Courtesy of Ian Sane via Compfight|