Thursday, 2 February 2017

There's no fool...

There is an old saying that states ‘…you can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time…’ 

I have known too many people in positions of responsibility to whom this is not a quotation but rather a ‘modus operandi’.  They are in over their head and they know it!  This approach serves as a type of survival technique.  Rather than acknowledge their shortcomings they use a variety of schemes to mask the reality.

Some use trickery.  Others simply lie or use alternate facts.  Bragging; bullying; delegating or refusing to make the tough decisions; threatening; coercing; belittling. These are all part of the ‘style’ that some use to ‘lead’.

First of all, let’s be entirely clear.  Leaders should never even try to fool any of the people any of the time.  Not only is it wrong, it is just plain dumb.  Those who work for you are not stupid and they can see through a façade pretty quickly.  You may be particularly astute at hiding your incompetence  from those above you, but it will come out sometime and likely at a time when you can least afford it to.

Secondly, most people are willing to offer you grace when you need it.  If you are struggling with something that is impacting your leadership abilities, acknowledge it. Perhaps you need some training; speak to your superior or find a mentor.  Perhaps your style has been incorrect – bullying, belittling etc. Apologize to everyone and change.  Maybe you really are in over your head.  Find the role that suits your abilities and your nature.

Finally remember that few people are qualified to lead the same group forever.  Your role may be ‘for such as time as this’.  The leadership style that works in a start- up company may not work for a mature organization.  Working with large teams is much different than working with in a small group.   Constantly examine and evaluate your skill set relative to the needs of your team.  If there are too many discrepancies, too many disconnects, face facts and move on.  This is no time for fools or fooling.  It takes courage, but that is part of leadership too.

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