If we are not careful we can become everyone’s friend, but nobody’s leader.
Note the story below:
“She’s an incredibly kind and gentle person. She’s smart, hard-working, and loyal…In talking through the specific situation, it quickly became obvious she had one weakness and it was effecting her entire team. It’s a common weakness among leaders. At times, most of us will struggle in this area. Her weakness? She was being too nice!
I realize this doesn’t sound like it could ever be a weakness. And, it has made her well-liked in the organization… But, it also had made her team less successful than it could have been. ..A few team members were taking advantage of her niceness by under-performing in their role. She hadn’t challenged the problems, even though she knew she should.
Perhaps you’ve seen this before in an organization. Maybe you’ve been on either side of this issue. I am not suggesting one become a mean leader. It would be wrong…I am suggesting one become a wise leader. Wisdom learns to guide people in the direction that is best for them, the leader, and the entire team or organization…Are you allowing problems to continue out of a fear of not being liked? There is nothing wrong with being a relational leader. That can be a great style of leadership, but part of developing any healthy relationship involves conflict, tough conversations and difficult decisions.” (a blog by Ron Edmondson, pastor and church consultant on leadership issues)
This behavior is a safe harbor, but if you flip that over you have a Port of indecision, where few if any ships ever sale. Organizations typically will overlook or only give minor attention to the lack of timeliness or procrastination in decisions and accomplishment since this person tends to fly under the radar in a quiet, polite, encouraging fashion rather than making waves and creating a visible problem. It is a peaceful disruption, but can be frustrating to those who work with them.
Leading is hard – some days harder than others. The sooner we handle the problem (and the problem people), the sooner things will begin to improve on our team.
The relational side of the equation is strength, however, it must be combined with the management side as well. This is one of the areas that leadership coaching becomes invaluable.
HBR conducted a survey of 140 leading coaches. They generally agreed that the reasons companies engage coaches have changed. Ten years ago, most companies engaged a coach to help fix toxic behavior, which often times resulted in too little, too late. Today, most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers and much more productive and lucrative for the organization.
The benefits of coaching are many; 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more (source: ICF – Benefits of Coaching article)
Coaching is a necessity, not a luxury. Today’s issues faced by managers changes as rapidly as the weather. It is essential that managers have the flexibility to be pro-active, make quick decisions, coach the team, address challenging issues, think strategically, and carry plans to fruition. Coaching provides insights into working through challenging issues and helping find a balance in focusing on both people and tasks appropriately so that the team can work together more effectively to successfully achieve a common goal – and that ultimately is the goal!