I hope you have spent the past month reflecting on leadership. This month, we want you to focus on four leadership tenets (integrity, accountability, empathy, and humility). And we are going to have you test your own leadership instincts by giving you some scenarios to ponder. These scenarios are based upon real life situations we have seen occur as Federal managers.
1 – During recurring staff meetings, do you do most of the talking or are you more interested in hearing from your employees? Further, do you include your employees in annual/strategic planning sessions?
Humility and Accountability. It’s not about you. Employee engagement increases significantly when employees are included in work decisions and own the policies and procedures.
2 – Do you continually try to improve your organization’s procedures /internal controls and include your employees’ suggestions in the process, or do you block attempts to do so?
Accountability and Empathy. As a leader, you are accountable for the efficiency, morale, and work environment of your subordinates. Through your empathy, make their work as stress-free as possible.
3 – If your boss and your employee violated the same serious ethics rule, would you treat both the same?
Integrity. This is a really tough one, but you must stay objective and do the right thing for the right reason. It’s difficult to tell The Emperor they have no clothes. But if you don’t, they probably will never hear it.
4 – When you hire employees, do you look for those who are smarter, or more accomplished, than yourself, or do you hire those who don’t threaten your own promotion potential? Also, do you look for complementary skills to further your organization’s mission and Human Capital Plan, or do you choose only skill sets you are comfortable with?
Integrity and accountability. You are responsible for making your organization the best it can be. You cannot succeed if you only hire mediocre employees.
5 – Do you look for novel (non-monetary) ways to reward YOUR employees and compose meritorious award recommendations for those who significantly exceed expectations? Do you regularly provide team-building opportunities for employees including luncheons?
Humility and Empathy. Everyone deserves a pat on the back when they exceed expectations. And everyone appreciates it!
6 – Do you micromanage? Do you give your employees a mission or project and then tell them how to do it? Do you ask for continual updates and critique nearly every step of the process? Do you edit work just to say you reviewed it?
Wow, this encompasses all four leadership qualities. General George S. Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” In our humble opinions, nothing stifles initiative like outstanding micromanagement.
7 – Do you task new employees to observe your business processes/policies/handbooks or other internal controls to suggest potential improvements or do ask them to merely follow those processes?
Accountability and Empathy (see #2 above). You are accountable for the efficiency, morale, and work environment of your subordinates. Make their work as stress-free as possible. Welcome a fresh set of eyes to improve your organization and get “buy-in” from your employees.
8 – When an official from outside your organization comes to you with an issue regarding one of your employees, do you just take their word for it and blame the employee or do you say, “Thank you. I will research your issue, speak with my employee and let you know?”
Empathy and Integrity. Employees need to know that you have their backs even when they make mistakes. You would want your boss to do the same and allow you to explain the situation before making any decisions.
9 – When you identify an employee performance problem, do you enforce the standards by counseling them and, if their performance doesn’t improve, take a performance-based action, or do you ignore it and redistribute the work among other employees so your organization still accomplishes its mission?
Integrity, Accountability and Empathy. Other than micromanaging, letting substandard employees get away with not pulling their weight is the second-best way to kill morale in an organization.
We hope these got you thinking and assessing your own leadership skills. Great leaders have fewer employment issues. Improving your leadership skills will lead to a better workplace for all. And that’s good news! Boehm@FELTG.com