Does your team respect your opinion because you’re the boss and you wield power, or do they really value what you have to say?
Are your staff honest with you and feel comfortable discussing anything with you or are they guarded and manage what they say because they don’t trust you or feel you will dismiss, argue or judge their views. Maybe people are telling you what you want to hear, or maybe they have learnt to challenge you just enough when needed, but they keep their honest opinions to themselves.
You might be able to name a handful of people that do tell you what they think, there will always be some, but are they still holding them selves back and what you are seeing is a dominant communication style at half strength. Or maybe on occasion some people will challenge you on the areas that will be disastrous for their team but most of the time have learnt to keep their opinions to themselves, so you don’t tag them as “not on board”.
Are you removed from the front line of your business, have you lost empathy to understand what your staff and clients face every day? Maybe you even come from a position of superiority and you often dismiss their thoughts and opinions because they don’t understand the bigger picture or maybe you think they are just making excuses.
Do you have political divisions within your company where some people are with you and others are against you? Do you behave differently with “your people” and give them more privileges then your other staff to reward their loyalty. What is your reputation throughout your business, do staff like you? What do they say about you when you are not in the room? Is it just you? Or are your fellow leaders in the same boat and you are all reinforcing your delusional state.
I’m not trying to make you paranoid or to become a boss that tries to please everyone. Not at all, no one respects that. However, you do need real respect and like-ability for people to truly follow you. Otherwise while you are rowing your boat, your team are just pretending to row to keep up the illusion and protect their jobs and teams.
Sadly, as we move up the ladder our emotional intelligence can decrease because we can lose touch with the real world. Senior positions come with great responsibility and power. Some leaders deal with this well and stay true to their values and work hard to connect with their staff. Others become delusional leaders who lose perspective around how they view themselves and how others view them. They choose to believe the hype around themselves and they get lost in their own egos.
What can you do to avoid this?
Treat your position as a responsibility to your company and to your staff. Challenge yourself to never take advantage of the power you wield. You can achieve this by being self-aware of what your intentions and motives are, are they about you or are they for the greater good? Practice strong self-management and resist the urge to lower the bar on your own behaviour.
Set safe environments where all kinds of people can thrive, not just your loyal tribe. Lead by example, be present and listen to what your staff have to say, ask them questions with an intention of learning and understanding their view. Let everyone see that you are open and encourage healthy debate. Do this again and again to demonstrate that you are listening and capable of change when needed.
Seek feedback and really consider it. Have a group of trusted people that will give you feedback and who you can check feedback from others with to get a good perspective. Value integrity and honesty over loyalty. Challenge yourself to like all your staff, be compassionate and care for them and take an interest in their lives. Share yourself with them. If you get to know people you usually find that you have more in common with them than what you don’t. If your staff can connect to you and believe you care about them, they are likely to follow you and start rowing for real.