They were able to describe the problem and show how it was impacting on their daily results but they didn’t have the power to resolve it. The issue had been reported several times but the senior leader was avoiding the problem because it was painful for him.
The business had grown from a small enterprise to a medium sized business. While much of the change was positive, there was still a historic process being managed by someone who had been with the business since start up.
The process was outdated and inefficient and the manager unwilling to embrace any change. The senior leader was emotionally attached to both the process and the manager. This increased his reluctance to get involved and consequently help the team solve their problem.
The Leadership Diamond
I got thinking about Peter Koeestenbaum’s ‘Leadership Diamond’. Which of the Leadership model’s 4 essential characteristics, Vision, Ethics, Courage and Reality was this leader not demonstrating?
The most obvious was courage. By avoiding an unpleasant situation, the senior leader was definitely not showing courage. Avoidance is the opposite of action and action is essential for progress. No action equals no change which in the case of our team, meant a continual recurrence of a problem.
Vision represents the leader’s ability to see the big picture and create a vision that inspires his followers. Our senior leader appears to have narrowed his vision and was consequently unable to see the whole picture.
Avoiding the reality of a situation makes it easier to evade decisions. If our senior leader had listened to the team and focused on the facts, he would have been more inspired to take action.
The senior leader was also not really demonstrating the ethical aspect of the ‘Leadership Diamond’. Yes he was concerned about the welfare of the manager who had been with him for a long time. However, he was overlooking the needs of the team members who were requesting his help. Ethical leaders demonstrate genuine concern for everybody.
Coaching gives leaders an opportunity to reflect on how they are leading. If you looked in the mirror what leadership characteristics would you see?
Jenny Johnson, CDI London Business Coach