I’ve given a lot of thought to what constitutes leadership, and I sometimes think we’re mixing apples and oranges. Is it our job as leaders to ensure that people in our organization feel good about themselves? Is it our purpose to help them find fulfilling work, or to provide the work and let them sort out the feeling good and fulfillment side of things? As leaders, do we need to be completely transparent in an effort to ensure that everyone feels valued? I have my opinion on this topic, and it’s probably not what you think. What about you? Do you think we’re confusing leadership with helping others feel good about themselves?
I raise this question, because there seems to be a growing movement that suggests that “good” leaders should be completely transparent. That good leadership is inclusive. While I agree with this in general terms, I don’t believe that leaders should be completely transparent or that it is their responsibility to make others feel included. A business owner, an executive or a manager has responsibilities to the organization that others do not. They have information, training and maturity that allowed them to get to that position. What they share and how they share it is completely up to them.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Good leaders are inclusive. They are good communicators and have a way of making others feel valued. However, good leaders know what to tell others, when to tell them, and how to deliver the message. Let’s take downsizing as an example. While I don’t think secrecy is the best option in this scenario, I think it is foolish to go and tell the entire company that layoffs are coming as soon as you know about it. This needs to be thoughtfully done. There are lots of things to think about as you go about communicating this type of information. I have heard the argument that people “can handle the news.” Well… is everyone the same? No. Some people can handle it, others can’t. You may have also heard that it is good to tell your employees so that they can have input into how to save as many jobs as possible. While I understand the concept, I don’t think it wise to enlist the help of everyone in the company. Perhaps a few people who have been there awhile, or who are mature enough not to go around like Chicken Little, screaming the sky is falling.
My point, leaders have a responsibility to lead the organization while valuing people. It is not their responsibility to ensure that everyone is happy or that everyone feels wanted. Leaders provide the framework where good work can be accomplished, while giving people the opportunity to make a living in an environment that treats people fairly.
All the best!
All the time!
- Distributed leadership: insights from North Africa (liw3.wordpress.com)
- The Law of Leadership Transparency – 3 ways to apply it (trugroupscott.wordpress.com)
- Deepak Chopra On Enlightened Leadership (blogs.forbes.com)