Today's Challenge: Leadership Complacency

The cost of complacency in the workforce is staggering. The cost of complacency in leadership ranks is beyond calculation – it multiplies! That’s the issue for Today’s Challenge this week: What do you do with leaders who are not fully engaged?

I’ll start by stating my answer as succinctly as possible…

You either change leaders or you change leaders.

This is some of the best advice I’ve ever heard for dealing with leaders who, for whatever reason, are not bringing their best to work.
How do you “change a leader?” Here are a few ideas…

Be sure the leader is bought in to the vision of the organization. Are you on the same page? Do they see the same preferred future you do?

Be sure the leader clearly understands his or her role. Sometimes, a clarifying conversation on this issue is all that is required to set a leader on a new path.

Be sure you are leveraging the leader’s strengths. Is the leader in the right role? Maybe they should be serving in a different capacity.

Be sure you are challenging the leader sufficiently. Big leaders need big assignments. An underutilized leader can lose their edge.

Be sure the leader understands the importance of his or her full engagement. People always watch the leader. Help the leader see the impact of his or her engagement or lack thereof.

Be sure to listen for other issues that may be impeding the leader’s performance. Are there health issues at play? Family issues? Others? You may or may not be able to solve the issue, but understanding the context may help identify the way forward.

Be sure you’re not the problem. What are you doing to motivate and possibly de-motivate this leader? If you decide to move to the “Change the Leader” option, ask yourself: "Have I done all that is reasonable to resolve this issue?"

If you can’t “change the leader,” you may have to “change the leader.” If you do, I have three recommendations.

Be sure the leader has received fair warning. If the leader is surprised by the pending change, that’s a sure sign the process has failed. The goal is “no surprises” at this point in the journey.

Be sure there is adequate written documentation. This will provide additional clarity for person by seeing the issues in writing. And, should the decision be challenged in the future, documentation is critical.

Note: Although documentation is a simple idea, it should be treated seriously. If you need additional coaching on this, check with your labor attorney.

Be sure to get input from others. I’m a firm believer that the hiring decision is too important to be made by a single individual. I feel the same way regarding the decision to relieve someone of his or her duties.

There is a lot of conversation about the engagement of front line workers – as there should be. They are the face and hands of our organizations. However, it you want their engagement to skyrocket, be sure your leaders are all in. Engaged leadership is a prerequisite to an engaged workforce.[GLS_Shield]


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