When senior leaders get a dangerous “exemption”
My name is Jason Swaim and I am a reader of your magazine. I read an article you wrote entitled "Leadership- The rest of the story.” The company I work for sent the whole company leadership, including myself, to "Dave Ramsey's Entre-Leadership program." They flew out his speaker Chris LeCurto. The core of the program is to not separate yourself from your workforce, and to not lead with threats and fear.
What happened as a result?
The company went 180 degrees the other direction. It came out with new (different colored shirts) for Foreman and Project Managers, it made entry into the office require a scanning badge to enter (there went the open-door policy), it took away the field workers’ coffee pot from the break room as punishment for asking for coffee.
Safety rules and regulations were put into place that affect only the work force and don't apply to company officials, such as daily inspections for vehicles, wheel chocks on parked vehicles with emergency break set, and a spotter for backing.
All are great best practices, yet leadership doesn't have to abide by any of the same, they are exempt.
Weekly safety meetings include what a great job the company is doing, followed by negativity and we’re better than this or that. “Do as I say not as I do” is commonplace.
What I took from Entre Leadership is simple: treat others as you want to be treated, don't threaten them. Don't lead with threats and fear. It’s pretty simple. As to management believing they are above everyone else, it is only allowed because Senior Management and Ownership allow it
Then there are the gossip issues -- 99% of all gossip originates in the office, so what does that tell employees?
I am no longer in leadership, I didn't meet their (friend list) for I talk to everyone the same, or at their level. Like a chameleon, I blend in with those in my surroundings to enable myself to better communicate with them, whether a child, a teen, an adult, a co-worker, a business partner, ownership, or a customer.
I don't blow smoke, I communicate the issue or concern, address it, and mitigate it WITH them. That is the whole key -- involve others in the decision-making process so they stay interested and engaged. It motivates people to succeed, and makes them truly feel a part of a team.
Most leaders are manipulators, I agree. But then there is the occasion where being yourself and leading by example promotes oneself.
Be real, and lead by example, do not ask someone to perform a task that you yourself are not willing to do. If you are in management, at least have an overall understanding of what you are asking your employees to do.
I see time and time again some young person fresh out of college in a leadership or management position, and though educated and smart, they have no work experience to back it up, to keep their audience ( employees) engaged. Education is important, but work experience is equally if not more important in choosing your leadership. For example, would you rather have a graduate with a BS in aeronautical engineering land your plane? Or an actual pilot with no degree?