When CEOs describe a personal goal for their coaching, they are reluctant to bring this point up. Find up what it is and what to do about it below. Written by Walter Simson, for Inc.
It’s just…something that comes up in feedback. Or they recall an upsetting episode. Or they admit to the problem, and assume it is incurable.
The problem is that they are hard bosses to work for.
Maybe they’re impatient with staff and snappish around deadlines. Or worse: screamers. The fear is that they are abusive to staff. What can they possibly do, absent a strait jacket?
A lot of these folks grew up in hierarchies that took years to climb. They were permitted to think that, with increased responsibilities came increased license to be impatient.
Others may be channeling the most lurid parts of the Steve Jobs legacy: uncompromising perfectionist.
For anyone who has suffered from this management deficiency (and many of us have), here’s what you can do about it:
I suggest this simple mindset change: Take that image of a pyramid, and turn it upside down, so that the wide portion is at the top. Now imagine that as you climb the pyramid, your duty to help others grows and widens.
I don’t mean theoretically, as in “you have wider fiduciary responsibilities.” I mean, literally, that you are responsible for the persons who work with you.
Let’s say that someone is in danger of missing a deadline on a project. Instead of yelling, ask what might help them to accomplish their goal.
Is the staff member overloaded, and needs assistance? Does he have the tools to do his job? Is she well-trained?
If not, it is your responsibility to get them–and the company–the aid they need, both in the moment and in the long term. It is literally your job.
And if there is a mis-match between the timing of what’s needed and today’s deliverable, that’s a lesson you–just as much as the employee who needs help–need to take to heart.
For me, this mindset comes out of the teachings of W. Edwards Deming, who wanted management to set up company systems that lead to success. That means that you cannot blame workers for the failings of the system.
You may remember that Deming was particularly scornful of those “Let’s not have an accident” posters you used to see in factory cafeterias. His thinking was that a leader designs his factory for safety. He doesn’t blame the accident victim.
Similarly, you as a leader are responsible for the development of the people in the corporation, and if there is an “accident” in a missed deadline, it shows the deficiencies of your management.
Please do this now (or at least before you have another hissy fit): Draw an upside down pyramid and at the top list all the jobs, responsibilities and resources that you own or control as a company leader.
Some potential examples: administrative help, an Uber account, your ten years’ experience in logistics, introductions to your friends at the industry association, extra personal time, a temporary work from home assignment, specialized training.