The key to success: it’s the managers
“As you read this book, keep in mind that the quality of your manager/team leader is the single biggest factor in your organization’s success.”
That is a quote concerning one of the best books that I have read recently called “It’s the Managers” by Gallup. Overwhelming evidence points to the internal dysfunction is caused by that manager that is out of control, ill-equipped, or in a job that they do not have the capabilities for. Yes, the problem is right under your nose.
Creating the fertile zone
The most important covenant within any organization today is the bond between managers and employees. Korn Ferry has done extensive research on this point, and they labeled it as a climate zone. Organizations must realize that the nexus for an effective organization may not be the Leadership Development of the top leaders.
Maybe, that focus should be laser-focused on the lowest level manager and rise from there.
This is how I arrived at that thought, think of the span of control within, how many levels of managers touch the bulk of your workforce, and how many to the customer. Based on that theory, from lower levels to mid-level managers have an overwhelming employee-facing responsibility. That being said, they should be ground zero for building this coveted group into effective leaders within the organization.
Entry point and Each Hereafter – DEVELOP
For every level of increasing responsibility, there should be a development component. Do not expect a person to leave on a Friday and come back on Monday as a leader of people. The risk is astounding, but that is what is happening all across the globe.
The first level of understanding is team dynamics. What are the stages? How do I navigate the intricacies of a team? How can I realize that there are common themes in interactions? This would negate picking up wrong signals and getting off on the wrong track.
The other area of focus should be giving them the tools they need to lead people, from leadership to coaching.
Bottom-Up Leadership Development
What I am talking about is the most fertile zone of building leadership capabilities is the first level manager before a lot of the bad habits have been picked up. Understanding the styles that they may have been exposed to may not be the most effective for them to use. Understanding that great leaders have mastered styles that are effective across a broad range of situations. In other words, how do you build your toolkit from scratch so that you are familiar with which tool to use in different situations?
There is so much discussion that company culture starts at the top. Sure, it is tremendously important for those in senior leadership positions to embrace, embody, and champion
organizational changes and organizational culture. However, middle managers play a crucial part in implementing and executing organizational strategies and cultural changes. They create the “climate” within their teams. Across your organizations, the span of control across this sector of managers touches the vast majority of your organizations.
So how does an organization strengthen the middle? Train and develop mid-level managers and the ones below. This segment of managers faces a whole new set of leadership challenges as they begin to progress their careers. It’s no longer just about holding employees accountable for their work and their contributions.
The Repercussions of Bad Leadership
Neglecting to strengthen the middle of an organization will lead to high turnover, a decrease in employee engagement, lower productivity, or poor succession down the line.
If you talk about succession planning, this is the garden that it all starts from. On the other hand, the number one reason people leave companies are BAD MANAGERS. It is that simple. So if I use the theory of getting to the root cause, that is the bullseye.
It is time to rethink the “leadership development” paradigm. More focus needs to be put into seeding this level and giving them to understand what and how to build leadership skills.
Strengthening the middle and lower level leads to better leaders, prepared for managing change, coaching their teams, and the importance of them understanding their role and how important that is.
Center their development on understanding the team and begin building their leadership capabilities at the starting line. This robust and consistent building blocks with allow for a building process will be timely, but the focus is on building future leaders.
There is a gold mine of opportunity within our organizations that are waiting to be found. The riches await us.
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Ron Thomas is Managing Director, StrategyFocused Group DWC-LLC, based in Dubai.
He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf countries, also based in Dubai. A former CHRO who was based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Ron is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute [hci.org ] covering the MENA region. He...