Why Leaders are Rated Poorly – Doing Too Much of the Wrong Things

Have you ever tried to do too much at the same time?  I have.  I ended up doing average or below average work in all the tasks I tried.   Our organizational leaders are doing this.  They are trying to do more than they are capable of doing and they are doing poorly.

Recent studies support this point:

  • 18% of mid-level leaders and only 37% of senior leaders are rated excellent – Bersin Associates
  • 45% of employees are satisfied with their jobs – Conference Board
  • 29% of employee are engaged at work
  • 60% are ready to look for a new job as soon as the economy improves

This data confirms our need for a boost in leadership skills but the answer isn’t to do more training with the current model.   Instead, the answer is to change the model.  Thanks to the Frederick Taylor Scientific Management model we continue to expect our leaders to be both omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing).

Our Human Resources departments search for and fight for the best talent.  We create pay for performance schemes to keep this exceptional talent happy.   We expect these highly talented leaders to “drive performance” by providing brilliant and continuous feedback to employees through the typical performance review.   Our HR managers continue to look for the “Jack Welch’s on steroids.”  We expect them to know too much and do too much.   This is why we are disappointed.  They can never meet those expectations.   Furthermore, they should not be expected to meet them.

All this is done while we continue to see poor performance of organizations, employee engagement measures, and leadership skills.  This model is flawed.  This model puts leaders in a position to try to know too much and do too much. We put our leaders on a pedestal so high that they get dizzy and can’t help but fall off.  We put them in an impossible situation and then we wonder why we are disappointed.

Instead of omnipotence and omniscience let’s have leaders who are great facilitators.  Facilitators know they don’t have the answers.   Facilitators know they can’t effectively direct all the work.  Facilitators know they can’t control people.  Instead they use influence to tap into the collective intelligence of the entire workforce.  Instead they create a trusting environment that fosters creativity in the team.  These new facilitator leaders know that synergy is more valuable than the solo top performer.  They know that no matter how highly rated or highly intelligent an individual may be, they cannot out perform an aligned team.

Facilitation is one of the most valuable new skills leaders must develop for success in the new knowledge economy.  Our economy requires the accumulation of knowledge not the accumulation of control.  Knowledge allows teams to make accurate predictions.  The more knowledge we have the more money we attract and knowledge accumulation accelerates when people cooperate and communicate effectively in a safe trusting environment.

The act of facilitation sounds so simple but it is definitely not easy.  As the knowledge economy unfolds the skill of facilitating will grow in importance.  Get on board now.  Develop your facilitation skills.   Stop trying to be omnipotent and omniscient.  Start bringing your people together to create new ideas.  Don’t rely on the top talent for answers.  The top talent (including you) can never out perform an aligned trusting team.

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