By Kelley Reynolds
“Oh, these are for an ideal or perfect workplace.” During a recent facilitation, a well-established and experienced leader participant made that comment to me. The comment made was to imply that the concept we discussed during our session would not work at their particular place of employment, only in a utopian organization. Were these comments made to shirk responsibility? No, I do not think so. This person was just processing. However, the comment made me think.
Will we ever work at an ideal or perfect workplace? No.
Why? Because our workplaces are owned and led by human beings; imperfect and flawed human beings. They only hire humans. Then we only promote those same imperfect and flawed humans into leadership positions.
Does this mean we are destined to toil and suffer under tyrannical bosses eight hours a day, five days a week? No!
As leaders, because our workplace is not ideal, we do not work in an ideal office, is this an excuse for us to not give our best to our teams? No.
Though none of us are without challenges, by the time we promote into leadership, each of has an idea of what good leadership looks and feels like. Or, we have experienced poor (management) leadership and are determined to do better.
Once promoted, do good leadership skills enter our brains through osmosis, during our sleep? No. They require genuine effort. It is our impetus to seek training and classes. Obtaining information and education costs us time and money. After you have attended a class and earned a certificate, is that enough? No.
This is where you must be candid with yourself. This takes courage. You have to take a good hard look at yourself and prepare for what you will see. Are you exemplifying your best leadership skills? Have you ceased your poor management habits? When you ask yourself, though you might know the right answer, are you being honest with yourself?
Knowing that there are areas where you can improve, is that enough? No. Now comes the real effort; implementing what we have learned into action. Do you listen enough? Do your emotions match your task? Are you being a good role model? Do you offer praise and encouragement abundantly? Wherever you answer no, then take action and fix it!
So, you have worked to make those improvements, are you done? No. Because situations are dynamic. Needs change. People grow. Organizations advance. In leadership, you will have to continue to adapt and grow with the needs of your teams and to the goals of the organization.
Once you have modified your leadership behaviors, does that mean you are done? Have you created the Utopian organization? No, of course not. However, you are making improvements. You are making a difference. Your team will notice the change in your behavior. They will notice that coming into the office is more pleasant. They will appreciate the strengthened relationships; time you share with them; the reasonable and reliable expectations you have set for them.
Is this perfect? No. Did you make it better? Yes.