“My managers just don’t agree with what I say.” Such was the frustrated, emotional exclamation of a 50 year old successor trying to assume leadership of the business his father had transferred to him through a ten year succession process. “I just struggle to get them to agree with me.”
“Are you struggling to get your managers to agree with you? What’s wrong with this picture”, I responded in dismay.
Unfortunately this scenario is not all that uncommon. In fact I find myself offering this retort so often to inexperienced or ineffective leaders that I believe it is time to add another response from AskLoyd@RawlsGroup.Com.
Fundamentally the Chief Executive Officer is the business leader. The role of a business leader is to influence others including managers to do what they have not done for the betterment of the organization. Managers are the ones responsible for helping employees do what they have always done better. Leaders consider options; fight fear of the unknown; offer reassurance of success out of their comfort zone; establish stretch goals; set direction; and “execute” an action plan. Thus is the source of the title, Chief “Executive” Officer because the ultimate responsibility of the leader is to pull the trigger.
No doubt leadership is greatly enhanced by the agreement of those being led. Furthermore, aspiring leaders gain vital respect by seeking the input and agreement of team members regarding options, goals, direction and execution. The execution of aspiring leaders is enhanced by the cooperation and enthusiasm of those being led. I say “aspiring leaders” because if you are going somewhere and no one is following you are just taking a walk.
However, leadership does not depend upon agreement. Being a leader does not necessarily include being liked or being a Chief Consensus Officer. Leadership does demand respect that after adequate discussion “the boss is going to make a decision and that what we are going to do”. In fact the endless pursuit of consensus is contradictory to leadership. Leaders are unique in their willingness to execute when others are reluctant, confused or afraid to step out of their comfort zone. The presence of contrary opinions and confusion is what creates the opportunity for leadership. Leaders consider opinions of others; they are not dependent upon the opinions of others as the quagmire of this question infers. Moreover, leaders have an internal “leadership clock” that tells them when to stop the gibberish and stop the pursuit of consensus proclaiming, “We have discussed this long enough; shut up with the debate, this is what we are doing”. There are levels of leadership but fundamentally leaders are confident, willing to take risks and willing to fail in an effort to achieve their goals. They believe that success is based upon the failures they learn from and if we are going to fall, we will fall forward.
So if you are struggling to get your managers to agree, you are not leading. You are essentially abdicating leadership to a mob which generally means there is a management terrorist in the group that does not respect you and is working against you. Frustration with managers is ok because frustration leads to overload and overload leads to “it’s time I make a decision and if you don’t like it, get over it or find another gig”. To struggle against management reflects that you are trying to avoid taking the risk of not being liked and executing a plan that may fail. You are avoiding calling out one or more of your managers who resents you, wants your position and is testing your resolve.
Don’t struggle with managers. Sack up to leadership. Set the alarm on your “leadership clock”. When the bell rings, dispense with the pursuit of consensus and execute.
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