We’re full of crap. I’m tired of it. I know you are too judging by the comments I get on the blog and the emails I receive. I’d like us all to fix this. To that end, I’ve written a ChangeThis manifesto. Below is the beginning of the document. You can read and download the entire thing as a PDF too.
The Leadership Model is Broken.
What has happened to leadership? With all the crises and challenges we face, and the increasingly risk-averse environment in which we operate, leadership has become generic, ephemeral, and bland.
We have devolved from leaders into managers. Admiral Grace Murray Hopper said it best, “you manage things, but you lead people.” The problem is we’re no longer leading. We’re hiding behind committees. We’re using the crutches of data and metrics to make our decisions for us. We blame policies and corporate culture for the problems our teams face rather than delivering the tough messages with a sense of ownership.
The result of all of this is our people don’t trust us anymore. Work has become transactional. They do the work and we pay them. It’s a fee-for-service mindset. When they find someone who will pay them more for their services, they’re gone. And when we no longer have need of their services, we simply cast those people aside. It’s a toxic environment. It’s hard for people to trust their leaders when they feel like they’re simply a cog in the machine.
We are Broken as Leaders.
Raise your hand if you’re burned out. Step forward if you’re worried about your own uncertain future. Shout if you’re feeling a little lost and unclear about where your career is headed. Stand up if you feel like your life is out of balance and you’re running out of steam. Now look around you and take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.
The world has become hypercompetitive and change moves at a dizzying rate. More and more is demanded of us each day. In our “high performance cultures” it sometimes feels like a contest of who can burn themselves out the fastest.
And as we scurry along through a mind-numbing array of meetings, progress reviews, and workshops we lose something along the way—we lose sight of what’s important. We miss seeing the damage we’re doing to ourselves and our people. That’s not leadership. That’s failure.
We Talk Funny.
Many of us resort to using fancy words and frameworks to demonstrate our mastery of leadership. We synergize, leverage and optimize so at the end of the day the sum of our value added activities maximizes shareholder value, engages employees, and propels us to a best-in-class premier position in our industry.
That’s a bunch of crap.
The words sound great but what do they mean? Would you trust a boss who spoke like this all the time? Neither would I. If that’s the case, why do we speak to members of our teams this way? Everyone wants to be authentic. It’s one of the most overwrought concepts out there. Fortunately it’s incredibly easy to be authentic—simply drop the pretenses and be yourself.
So What’s the Fix?
We need to get a grip on ourselves if we want to reverse the inexorable slide into management hell. The buzzwords and lingo need to die. We need to regain a sense of balance in our lives. We need to stop blaming processes, policies, and metrics for the decisions we make (or abdicate). We need to get back in touch with ourselves, our direction, our people, and our sanity. We need to embrace the notion that being authentic means just being ourselves—without pretence, with inadequacies, and with humility.
We need to make life simple again but not for simplicity’s sake—for the sake of bringing clarity to the way we lead. We’re going for profound yet clear. We’re in search of elegance—defining a leadership style that is simple, straightforward, understandable, and practical. We need to articulate and live a style that matches our personality. We need to share that style with the members of our team so they understand us and find us more predictable. In doing so, we’ll reestablish trust with them and lead them more effectively than a billion buzzwords would ever allow us to do.
One Person. A Whole Person.
If you want to be authentic and live a leadership style that’s consistent, you first must embrace the notion that you’re always the same you. At work. At home. At rest. With friends. It’s always the same you. When you try to be something you’re not in any of those realms, you cross the line into inauthentic. You need to strive for the strength of internal consistency that comes from accepting you’re the same person no matter your circumstance.
Given that, when you articulate who you are and who you want to be as a leader you need to look at four aspects of leadership: leading yourself, leading the thinking, leading your people, and leading a balanced life. If you can define your views on leadership across those four aspects, you’ll draw a complete picture of who you are in any circumstance. That complete picture will help you achieve balance and focus on all the areas that are critical elements of your success.
To download and read the rest of the manifesto, CLICK HERE. I hope you enjoy it and, more importantly, change something about the leadership environment in your organization.