By Michael Holland     

There’s the strong, powerful, charismatic, self-absorbed CEO attempting to guide a senior leader forward, or their team forward.  After a moment or two of seemingly good leadership technique he finds his natural groove and drops the “S Bomb.”  The “do it my way because I said so” command.  His order is followed because he’s the CEO after all, but he hasn’t led well.  Unfortunately he’s likely following a leadership habit he built up many years ago.

Study after study show that executive leaders want employees to be more responsible but to gain that trait leaders themselves must enable employees to become responsible.  And to emphasize the point, responsibility is doing what is right rather than doing what you’re told to do.

Leaders who strive to lead well learn early on that their role as a leader is not to give orders or make commandments but to create responsible employees.  Leaders leading well enable the opportunities to create responsible employees who will think on their own to do the right things rather than do what they are told to do.    True responsibility creates depth and scale and vibrant organizations.

Here are 3 signs leaders are creating environments which enable growth of responsible employees.

  • Providing Direction – Paint the picture for where we are heading.
  • Providing Intent – Articulate the objectives and purpose.
  • Providing Opportunity – Allow them to figure out what to do and how to get there.

It is the last of these 3 signs which may be the most important.  Leaders and employees both grow from the cycle of figuring things out.  The leader becomes better by providing the room for growth and the employee grows.  I know, it’s so simple and yet so many leaders fail to enable this environment.  Unfortunately, too often our corporate cultures have created an environment that trains leaders to focus on developing employees to comply rather than to think.

So leaders, become responsible and behave in the ways in which you want your employees to behave.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • In the last week, what percentage of your time was spent on complying versus thinking?
  • In the next week, pick an employee and situation that warrants a test, and do the 3 Ps for them.  Take a mental video of how you are exuding confidence and patience in the employee to “figure it out.”
  • Do you agree with the statement that we “focus on developing employees to comply rather than to think?”