Leadership Success Secrets
..useful as a Human Resources Success Secret too!

A question of leadership success secrets and human resources success secrets took me back through time a couple of days ago. I ended up spending a good few hours contemplating the different managers I've worked with over the years. Many of them were very good managers, some were average, and there one was one who... Let's just say he played political games far better than he ever managed anything!

A Sorry Tale...

What prompted my thoughts on different leadership success secrets was a sorry tale ...
photo courtesy of hive at Flikr
What prompted my thoughts on different leadership success secrets was a sorry tale related to me involving a newly appointed manager. This lady has virtually no previous management experience. She's never directly managed people. She's never managed an operational department. Although, to be fair she has managed some projects. This particular manager was appointed to head up an internal business support department - it's precise function is not important to the tale. Her appointment followed the early retirement of the previous manager, whom she had supported extensively.

The previous manager had skills in seeing the wider picture of different situations and could piece together different possible outcomes, assess probabilities and likely outcomes, and act accordingly. If she had a downside, it was that she spent too much time collecting information to put together the different larger pictures. She liked her larger pictures to be precise. It often meant that whilst she produced excellent work personally, and through her department, that it was also frequently behind schedule and her ability to take on tasks was limited because of time constraints.

That situation impacted on her team, especially her main support - the new department manager. It left the people around her - the people in her department - finding themselves collecting lots of data, to make reports that few people read or needed. It also left the people around her anxious to move projects forward rather than collect more piece of data. In comparison to other departments, it left the people in her department, including the new manager frequently feeling overlooked and sidelined.

The new manager has learned from her predecessor and collects data. She too makes reports that few people read. Before her appointment as manager she knew her own job, but despite her six or seven years service, knows very little of what other people in the department do.

However, she comes from an old school. She's the manager, so she's in charge. She has taken that to mean that she should tell everyone else what to do. She pushes the admnistrative staff around, getting them to move files of information from one place to another. She has decided that box files should not be stored on top of filing cabinets and so had the department members move them to... well, the floor.

She works from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. with an hour for lunch. Because those are the hours that she works, she is now pushing everyone else in the department to work the same hours. That way she knows exactly what they're doing during their work hours and that they are working to their correct start and finish times. Efficiency is far less important than timekeeping. She has refused to conduct staff feedback/progress reporting or commence appraisals, and has refused training for staff because it means time away from work.

The new manager has been in post for five months on a temporary contract. Indications are that her appointment could be made permanent. So far she has faced two complaints about client treatment in the department and one complaint from a member of her team for bullying. Others could easily follow.

In short the lady is exhibiting a high desire to control, and a limited understanding of leadership and management that relates only to writing reports and telling other people what to do. In short, exerting power over the minions whilst looking as busy as possible.

Talking of Leadership Success Secrets

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a civil servant, the head of a government department, widely admired in both the public and private sectors. We were discussing stakeholder management, getting results, correct management, using resources, and leadership success secrets. We also discussed human resource management.

"But we laugh at Dilbert because otherwise we would be forced to look in the mirror and cry!"
photo courtesy of blue_j at Flikr
"Of course", he said. "We all love Dilbert, but do you know why?"

"Because the Dilbert cartoons are funny?" I guessed the obvious, suspecting he was about to tell me anyway.

"Yes, they are!" he laughed. "But we laugh at Dilbert because otherwise we would be forced to look in the mirror and cry!"

"In Dilbert, people are forced, pushed, bullied and cajoled into doing things that they don't want to do. It forces division between the managers and the workforce. And ultimately, the workforce, do what they want to and just keep it hidden."

"It's the exact opposite of the No. 1 of leadership success secrets." he said. "Leaders don't push. They lead by going where others WANT to follow"



Leadership Success Secrets

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