I have been involved in a few conversations recently where the subject of what the boss would say came up in conversation.
It’s fascinating that employees fuss over what the boss will think.
It shows a lot about the culture that operates within such organisations.
In some cases careers may rest upon pitching it right.
Is this what the boss will want to hear?
After all bosses only want to hear good news don’t they!
In the instances discussed it appeared to make doing the right thing impossible, or at least as far as that employee was concerned.
The shadow left by the leader lasts long after they have moved on.
In one of the discussions the leader was no longer even in the business, but their image left a lasting legacy and this was having a material impact upon current operational performance.
When I delved deeper into the conversations I find that the truth is that many people do not actually know what there boss would actually say or do.
Folklore makes up the gap.
Hierarchy plays its part.
Looking down it can be in the best interests of bosses to allow the myths to prevail because its suits their purpose.
Possibly to climb the greasy pole, or perhaps to keep others in check. ‘I know the boss well – she would not like to hear that’.
Like gossip this is passed on and embellished along the way for effect.
The truth becomes distorted and if we are not careful everyone believes the rhetoric – sometimes even the boss!
Looking up the hierarchy all you see is a metaphorical brick wall. It’s easier to follow the crowd, keep your head down, and do as you are told.
Conformity is the name of the game.
Then I get to meet the boss in question, and they are nothing like the character portrayed by the stories that you have heard.
They are keen to learn; to engage; to understand how the business works; and how things might be improved.
The problem in todays corporate world is that it is too easy for leaders to become detached from the real operation.
In its place comes stories generated by others in the hierarchy often to suit their own purposes that cause the leaders messages to get distorted, or even replaced with the words of others.
The way for a leader to resolve this is simple.
Get out in the work as a routine part of your day, build trust and confidence, and find out what is really going on out there.
When you find things that are getting in the way, or that others cannot sort or fix act to support them to resolve the issue. If necessary, this also means getting your ‘sleeves rolled up’ to understand the real causes of the issue and following the causes through to resolve them with/for the team.
Leaders need to generate a true image of who they really are and what you stand for. Not hide behind the hype of hierarchy and myth of folklore.
If you have the customer at the heart of your thinking and understand what matters to them, and work to truly understand what gets in the way of delivering what matters to them, you will not go far wrong.
Get started right now by blocking time out and go and do some action research. You will be amazed what is really going on outside your glass box.
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