Do you suck the life out of your team?

I started reading “An Everyone Culture” recently and came across a personal story that blew me away.  The book follows three true learning organizations, and then analyzes the commonalities to propose a method that any organization can use to become a “DDO – a deliberately developmental organization.  Good read.

In the story, a leader described feedback she’d received from a subordinate whom she called her “canary in a coal mine.” He said that he felt the room go cold when things weren’t going her way.  After much grueling soul searching, the leader concluded that “for people to be able to flourish, they would need to do it in their own way, and not the way I thought was the way.” (p.39) Wow!

You can’t read any business journal today without seeing the words “employee engagement.”  We hear from Gallup that 87% of the workforce is not engaged. And thousands of vendors will sell you the panacea.

Perhaps this courageous leader in the book gained insight into a different way of engaging employees – not disengaging them?  I would propose that all the engagement tools in the arsenal are useless if intentional disengagement is in play.

Somewhere back in the 1990s organizational psychologists began to demean the “command and control” leadership style of the industrial age, and tout a more “participative leadership” style and inevitably vendors set up shop to help organizations make the transition and management fads took off.

It was about the same time that organizations were downsizing and the highly effective “management training program” that hired and trained to leadership skills fell prey to cost cutting.  It was much less costly to take the best worker and promote her to manager (sorry, the sarcasm just came out).

Let me get to my point. If today’s leaders cling to the concept that they know what to do and how to do it better than others and they allow others to see this bias, they cannot engage their team.  They suck the life out of the team. (more…)