Internal politics often stop forward progress and isolate staff. I recently spoke with a client who described how a number of managers in her organisation had been playing the ‘old school’ game of trying to keep information from others.
This was one approach that a manager could get away with in the 1980’s and 1990’s because the pace of business and communication was also ‘old school’. We did not have the real time internet, email, social media and SMS messaging that allow people to share information and take action faster.
In our conversation, I asked her which leaders she admired. Without having to think she replied “the leaders that inspire, include and challenge me to perform at a higher level.”
The issue is that we still have too many ‘old school’ leaders that are playing an analogue game in a digital world. This is resulting in many organisations losing their effectiveness, losing their great staff and eventually losing their market share.
How Not to Get Stuck as an Old School Leader:
- Ask Questions to Understand. Rather than assuming that you know everything and keeping information to yourself, take the time to ask lots of questions. Do this to understand the different viewpoints, concerns, challenges and successes of your people.
- Keep An Open Mind & Keep Learning. I remember working with a very successful multimillionaire businessman that was in his 70’s. Whilst I was facilitating a group of other very successful leaders I noticed he continually took out a small notebook and was writing things down. During one of the breaks I asked him how he was finding the session that I was leading. “Great” he responded and he showed me all of the notes he had taken from the session that I was running. Although he was towards the end of his career and very successful already, he was continually learning.
- Mentor & Stretch Your People Many leaders do not take the time to mentor their staff. They often use the excuse of being ‘too busy.’ The leaders that truly inspire and motivate their people are the ones that take the time to check in and mentor in 1:1 situations. Look for opportunities to share insights and wisdom and ask questions that stretch or challenge how your people view a situation.
In this age of disruption businesses can’t afford to have ‘old school’ leaders. The pace of change, competition, technological shifts and staff expectations all demand more of a leader.
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