Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prevent Leadership ADD

"Most leaders talk about the importance of engaging workers, and recognize the connection between employee morale and performance," writes Robert Pater in "Overcoming Leadership ADD," his November 2013 Leading Thoughts column in the November 2013 issue of Professional Safety. Yet, Pater explains, many leaders are themselves disengaged, which puts in play a negative tone that affects frontline supervisors, workers and clients. In fact, as Pater notes that many leaders make no effort to change what they do but instead expect everyone to shape up.

What causes leaders to opt out on leading? Pater suggests that it's a leadership ADD, an affliction characterized by arrogance, distraction and disconnection.

According to Pater, arrogance shuts out alternative voices and differing opinions, making it the most dangerous flaw. It leads to finger pointing, yes-managers and what Pater terms not-me thinking. To prevent arrogance, "Leaders must monitor themselves for the creep of self-satisfaction. They must listen to their internal dialogue as well as to words spoken by others . . . and recognize that others have areas of experience and expertise that augment their own."

Pater notes that distracted leaders often become myopic, often focusing on activities that deliver little value and sap creativity and commitment. "The business world is filled with potential distractions," Pater warns. "Leaders must have the self-discipline to steadfastly steer toward the lands of opportunities while avoiding the shoals, dead-end tributaries and collisions with other obstacles."

Becoming disconnected from workers, customers and the company's real work is a significant problem that leaders must battle. "Disengaged leaders beget disengaged workers," Pater says. "Leaders must truly lead the way by finding significance, importance, meaning and enjoyment in their own mission and what they do each day." 

Read the complete column here.