Wish The Leaders Would Step Up And Take More Ownership Of Your Team?
One of the themes I hear from middle management is that they are hesitant to lead because they are unsure if they have permission to do so. Sure this reason may be a cop out for some but there are still many who hesitate to lead because they question their legitimacy to do so.
This tentativeness to lead is especially evident when it comes to the scary but necessary task of holding staff accountable to your organizational standards. The reluctance to lead affects many younger leaders but can also be an inhibiting factor for experienced leaders as well.
Whose permission do your leaders need and why exactly do they need it?
Consider this: When you stick your neck out to lead, you take a risk. You put yourself out there and risk being ignored, criticized, laughed at, ostracized, demoted, defeated, and/or rejected. When you step forward to lead, you risk being second-guessed, considered inept, and run out of town, especially when you fall short of your goals. And, ironically, sometimes you can suffer the same fate even when you succeed.
However, driven by a strong sense of passion, purpose, and persistence, you willingly and eagerly accept the risks associated with leadership because you believe so much in your vision and the value of the potential reward, both for you and your organization.
To mitigate and overcome the potential harmful risks mentioned above, many young leaders understandably want to know they have the blessing and backing of their CxOs to lead. They want to know that their leadership is really wanted, needed, and valued before they are comfortable stepping into a leadership role.
Not only does the permission to lead just impact functional managers, I have also heard from many younger project managers who are sometimes uncertain whether they have their upper management’s full permission and license to lead. They too are sometimes unsure of their place in the organization and thus, like your rest of the chain of command, lead tentatively so as not to interrupt or interfere rather than leading to inspire and impact. In essence, they lead not to lose rather than leading to win.
Reluctant Leaders who Lead not to lose:
• Are afraid to speak up and be vocal.
• Demonstrate weak and timid leadership.
• Lead only when it is comfortable and convenient.
• May see problems brewing but don’t address them.
• Have a hard time holding teammates accountable.
• May not keep you in the loop about issues on the team.
• May not have your back when ethical and moral issues arise.
• Fail to address the key issues that could distract, disrupt, or destroy the team.
Just as you highly value the full support of your Board as you navigate the turbulent and treacherous waters of leading, so too do your chain of command crave and appreciate your complete and public confidence in them as leaders.
(Note to CxOs: Be sure you consider this article not only from the vantage point of your VPs and Directors but also from the vantage point of your functional managers and project managers when it comes to lending your support to them.)
Thus, sometimes your program lacks effective leadership not because you don’t have able leaders, but because your leaders hold back because they are unsure if they have legitimacy and permission to lead. Whether they state it directly or not, your chain of command almost always want and need your public blessing and backing to lead.
Three Ways To Earn Permission To Lead
Obviously permission to lead is easy to grant if someone has earned it. It is not something you hand out freely but is something that must be both earned initially and then maintained over time. Here are three key steps your leaders can take to best earn your permission to lead.
1. Lead Yourself First
Remind your leaders that the best way to earn your blessing to lead is to start by leading themselves effectively. One of the biggest principles we continually stress with our Emerging Leaders in our Leadership Development programs is the principle that “All leadership starts with self leadership.” They must be able to effectively and consistently lead themselves first before trying to lead others. When your team leaders demonstrate consistent commitment, confidence, composure, and character it is easy for you to promote and support them as leaders of your organization.
2. Think ‘We’ Instead Of ‘Me’
Further, Organizational Leaders will support their team leaders when they consciously consider how things impact the entire team and not just them as an individual. Successful leaders selflessly sacrifice their own goals when necessary in service of the team’s goals. When you know that the organizational leader has a team first approach and is willing to consider and value the We over the Me, it is easy to grant them permission to lead.
3. Forge A Formidable Leadership Team
Finally, you don’t need a leader, you need a Leadership Team. You can best trust and support your organizational leaders when you know they are all on the same page as a solid Leadership Team. Thus, your chain of command must protect your back as well. They must be your voice in the war room (as it is commonly called in program and project management circles) and speak up when someone unjustly criticizes your decisions – rather than fueling the frustration by agreeing with them or even condoning it by staying silent. They also must be open and honest with you and keep you informed about what is going on.
In essence, good leaders act as smoke detectors and junior firefighters. They must properly alert you to issues and serve as your trusted first line of defense when the inevitable brushfires of conflicts and cliques flare up in your organization. Impress upon them how important it is that they keep you in the loop and help you detect and douse the flames of dissension. You obviously don’t need to know every minor detail, but as co-leaders of the organization your chain of command leaders do need to take ownership and keep you connected with what is going on in the program behind the scenes. It is much easier to support them when you know you won’t be blindsided by problems that they previously knew about but didn’t say anything.
By acting in these three ways, your teams will earn your trust and respect making it much easier for you to put your full support and trust in the chain of command as leaders of the organizational teams.
Proven Strategies To Get Your Reluctant Leaders To Step Up And Lead
If you find yourself with some leaders who are able but still reluctant to lead, you can click here to discover a Leadership development program you can take to build their confidence and empower them to be the responsible and respected leaders you need to succeed.