Electricity is a good thing until it electrocutes someone. Authority is like that – a good thing until it’s not.
Not to be political, but the example is too obvious to overlook: America is seeing its founding strengths of freedom and independence morph into an extremist individualism that is hindering our ability to work together and make progress. We’re increasingly unable to trust and unwilling to submit to authorities.
What does that say to us about authority within our organizations? We might like to think our employees’ separate their attitudes about government authority from organizational authority. Maybe. But I suggest the default posture is that authority is authority whether in the home, work, government, or elsewhere. If you want to be seen in a different light, it’s up to you turn on the lamp. Continue reading Being and Being Under Authority
Tensions: Maintain high standards…cut them some slack. Focus on the task at hand…don’t lose sight of the big picture. Be yourself…continually improve yourself. Be consistent…know when to make exceptions.
The Power of Tension
The human thumb is an amazing appendage shared by only a short list of other animals. Its power comes by working in opposition to our other fingers. Imagine how limited we would be if our thumbs just lined up parallel to our other fingers. The tension created by our thumb opposing the other digits creates extraordinary new capabilities.
It’s partly because they are so rare that “overnight success” stories of unicorn company founders attract so much media attention. And all that media attention inspires hordes of other young people who picture themselves on that next magazine cover. I congratulate the fractional percentage of them who make it!
If you’re looking for advice on workplace romance, this isn’t it.
We’re talking about leadership, so let’s see the connection between leadership and love.
Since both words have numerous definitions, let’s clarify the definitions we’re using here:
Leadership: Helping others reach their full potential. See https://enlumenls.com/defining-leadership-success/ and numerous other articles on this site for a fuller understanding of leadership. If you’re seeking your personal success and the success of your organization, the best way to achieve those is to focus on the success of those you depend on to make them happen.
Love:Making choices to put the good of another ahead of our own. Although many uses of the word “love” emphasize emotions, recognizing love as a choice that results in actions (and sometimes feelings also) puts it into the realm of something we control rather than something that happens to us. I find that to be a far more meaningful use of the word. Continue reading Love Thy Employees
Your hard work, education, and self-discipline have paid off. Congratulations for rising to a position of authority and leadership! People respect you. Your competence is often sought by others, both within your organization and by others in your industry and even outside your industry.
But now you’ve hit a plateau. The opportunities are there but you can’t seem to grow your organization fast enough to meet the demand. You recognize the bottleneck is leadership. You can’t find enough skillful leaders that you can trust to make good decisions. So every issue gets pushed up to a few very busy people. Maybe it’s only one person: You. Continue reading My Competence Is My Enemy
If you’re like most people trying to decide who to assign a task to, you start by identifying who is best equipped to do the job. They’ve done it before, they’ll get it done quicker, and it will take you less time to explain what needs done. It’s a natural starting point, but not necessarily the best ending point for deciding who does what. Continue reading Deciding Who Does What
We love having the answers. It’s an ego boost to know what to do when others don’t. But just because you know the answer, doesn’t mean you should give it when someone asks.
“Answer That” Scenario
Chris is Brett’s boss. Brett’s working on a project and encounters a problem. So Brett goes to Chris and asks what he should do. Chris, having been in similar circumstances, gives Brett a great answer. Brett take Chris’ advice and successfully solves the problem. What will Brett do the next time he has a problem? He’ll think, “I know, I’ll ask Chris!”. And Chris will probably give him another great answer.
What’s wrong with this scenario? Nothing, as long as Chris wants to continue to be the organization’s bottleneck, making all the decisions. Brett (and undoubtedly, many other Bretts in the organization) is being programmed to push every decision up to Chris.
Leaders tend to be busy people. A corollary is that leaders tend to be bottlenecks in most organizations. Good leaders learn to delegate – not just to get the tasks done, but because they see delegation as a tool for developing people.
So let’s say you’ve mastered delegating tasks and are seeing people rise up to do things that you used to think could only be done by you. Much to your surprise, some have proven better at those tasks than you ever were. You’re no longer a bottleneck, right? Continue reading The Decisions You Shouldn’t Make
It’s great to be recognized as an expert. And experts do bring value to organizations that need their specific expertise. But sometimes experts are so focused in their field that they are practically unintelligible to the rest of us.
Generalists, on the other hand, can bring value by connecting the dots across disciplines to get diverse functions to work together. But the jack-of-all-trades hits a wall when a master-of-one is needed.