Last post I shared with you my model for taking a 6-week break from client interaction to focus on sharpening the saw. In that post I stressed the value I have found in making and honouring this time to work on my long-term important but not urgent projects. The freedom this brings is invaluable. I also find I return to my clients with greater insights, more knowledge, tools and overall improved proficiency so win-win overall.
Today’s post is an argument for taking another kind of break break away from destructive leadership styles . Why do so many leaders model the wrong kinds of behaviour for their direct reports? Too many leaders set very high expectation for themselves and their direct reports to deliver and execute on various goals. Sadly, the cost is often higher than the results gained. These leaders I find are suffering from a case of myopia leading in the short-term without thinking and planning for the long-term.
A very senior leader at a local community hospital is known for taking holidays-kudos to her for doing this. However, she is still on the clock work-she does not stop. Her direct reports are getting emails from her at all hours of the day and the wee hours of the morning. Over the weekend she keeps up the same pace and of course while at work this pace doesn’t change. Lunch break is not taken in fact, meetings are booked during the regular lunch period. The impact of this on her direct report? You guessed it- they are expected to respond pronto to her emails. I know some of her front-line administrative staff as well as some of her middle level managers-they go without their breaks. They smile on the outside but in private are not satisfied with this kind of expectation placed on them.
Why would a leader lead in this way? How can anyone sustain this pace for the long-term? How does leading employees in this manner get the most out of them? The very same senior leader struggles with her weight. She is constantly looking for ways to lose weight BUT finds it escapes her. I wonder what happen if she were to actually take a break and stop long enough to eat a sensible meal? To actually take a vacation to recharge and rejuvenate and treat herself more compassionately and model this behaviour to her direct reports? just how much more productive and healthier she and her direct reports would be?
This story about the above senior leader is rampant within organizations ESPECIALLY in certain industries. Senior leaders learn from their predecessors to lead in the above destructive way. Often this way of leading is maintained out of fear for a number of reasons. I advocate for a break away from this leadership style.
But fear aside, those entering in leadership positions will need to start asking themselves:
- What kind of work environment do I really value?
- How do I model behaviours that are conducive to a healthier work environment?
- What can I do to enable my direct reports to challenge the process?
- What behaviours am I modeling that are destructive to my true values for a healthier work environment?
The authors of the book entitled The way we are working isn’t working hits the nail on its proverbial head. They identified four forgotten needs that energized great performance. These are lessons many leaders could find great benefit from implementing within their places of work.
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Here’s to loving how you live, work and play!