If you want trust, give trust. If you want respect, give respect. If you want to influence, let yourself be influenced. This is how leadership begins and ends. When leaders ignore this, it results in low morale and disengaged employees which hurts the company’s bottom line and customer expectations.
Many years ago, I consulted for a company called AMCO after they had a disastrous product launch. AMCO is a publishing company that specializes in developing innovative products for the education industry. The company’s publishing division was led by a person named Alfredo who believed that he had a keen eye for talent and always hired the best people for the job. However, he had a tendency to micromanage his teams and never allowed them to make their own decisions.
Alfredo decided to launch a new product that he was sure would revolutionize the education industry. I remember seeing the prototype many months before and getting excited about seeing it in the hands of educators. He put together a team of developers and gave them strict instructions on how to create the product. He told them what features to include, what technology to use, and how it should look.
Despite their reservations, the team got to work on the project. However, as time went on, they started to realize that the project was not going as smoothly as they had hoped. The team members found it difficult to communicate with each other, and they were not able to share their ideas freely. The lack of trust between team members began to take a toll, and progress on the project slowed down.
As the launch date approached, the team was nowhere near completion. Alfredo became increasingly frustrated and decided to take matters into his own hands. He started to micromanage the team even more, demanding progress reports several times a day, and making constant changes to the product. This only made things worse, and the team members started to lose faith in their abilities.
Finally, the launch date arrived, and the product was released to the market. It was a complete failure. The product had numerous bugs, the design was flawed, and it did not meet the needs of educators; who had eagerly awaited the product and were disappointed.
The failure of the product had a ripple effect throughout the company. Team members began to lose faith in their abilities, and they felt like they were not valued by the company. The lack of trust resulted in poor communication, a lack of collaboration, and a failure to meet customer expectations. The company lost credibility in the market, and its reputation was tarnished.
In the end, Alfredo realized that his micromanaging had been the root cause of the problem. He had not allowed his teams to work independently, and he had not built a culture of trust and collaboration. He knew that he had to make changes to the way the company operated, and he worked hard to build trust among team members. Over time, the company was able to recover and regain its position in the market. However, the lesson had been learned, and the company never again allowed a lack of trust to affect its operations.
It’s the leadership, stupid
In any organization, when there are performance and customer service issues it’s not the people; it’s the leaders. It’s the lack of trust in teams. The job of leadership is to create trust in teams. Trust is the foundation of leadership; it’s the key to high-performing teams. And the purpose of leadership is to create teams that take care of each other.
There are no bad teams only bad leaders. And, you don’t get the best from people when you micromanage them. You get their best when you create an environment in which they can work at their best.
Bottom line: As a leader, your job is to unleash people and teams; it starts with trust. Remember, as a leader you’re accountable for the success or failure of the team. It’s not the people, it’s leadership; stupid. Ask yourself, how do we create an environment in which people can work at their best?