Sunday, March 29, 2015

One of the most critical responsibilities of organizational and team leaders that is often neglected

I know it is often neglected because I talk to too many staff in too many organizations who are unhappy in their jobs. Not necessarily in the job itself but in the culture that they work in. Often a culture of non-empowerment, micromanagement, unnecessary rules and regulations that demean and a lack of graciousness, openness on the part of leaders. 

What is one of the most critical responsibilities of organizational and team leaders that is often neglected? It is creating a culture where collegiality is present, empowerment is the norm, work is appreciated, barriers are removed, voices are appreciated and contributions are acknowledged. All too often this is not the case.

I suspect the reason for this neglect is that leaders often are thinking more about their thing than about the organization as a whole. They are more concerned about staff serving them than they are about serving their staff. And with a fair amount of hubris in the Christian world, they think more highly of their contribution than they do of the contribution of their team - who actually make them successful or not. 

Also, there is far less training on basic leadership principles in the Christian world than in the workplace in general. Or, there is more talk about the right things than there is delivery on the right things. I am always bemused by major Christian leaders who put on conferences on leadership but whose own leadership culture is deeply dysfunctional. It happens more often than one would think.

Because leaders lead people one of their primary jobs is to create a work environment and culture that is healthy and life giving rather than dysfunctional and life draining. Want to find out which is true of your organization? Ask some candid questions or engage someone like the Best Christian Workplaces Institute to receive feedback.  Whether we do it formally or informally, if we lead we are responsible for knowing, building and maintaining a healthy workplace. One of the most telling questions is whether your staff would recommend that others come and work where they do. 

One of the most helpful exercises with staff is to ask them what is most important to them in a healthy workplace. They will tell you things like fairness, collegiality, being appreciated, knowing they are listened to, being empowered and so on. Just asking the question opens a very healthy dialogue for improving what you have and making it the best it can be. Interestingly, while people want to be fairly compensated, that is usually not the highest on their agenda. There are far more important things but unless we ask we don't know.

There are no perfect workplaces but there are some that are much more satisfying to work in than others. My goal as a leader is to have the kind of culture where people love to come to work, feel they are doing something deeply important and are appreciated for their contribution. And, where they have the tools to do what they are asked to do. 

Published from Washington D.C.





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