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Too often, when people get put into a position of leadership, they fall into the trap of detachment. They think they understand and know better because they are in that position of leadership, but they are actually detached from the reality of their company and what is happening to those below them.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • What is the danger of position that causes leaders to suffer, their businesses, and those below them?
  • A leader must make sure you understand the perspective of the front lines, you’re listening to their ideas, and implement things that are good.
  • Why is it necessary to have open communication with the front lines?
  • What are the terrible consequences when there’s a lack of trust in a leader?
  • Why is it best to empower the front lines to make decisions?

Full Episode Transcript

(00:20)

What is the danger of position that causes leaders to suffer, their businesses, and those below them?

In this episode, we’re going to talk about one of the great dangers that can happen when someone gets put into a leadership position. So what is this danger of position? What can happen when someone gets put in a position of leadership that causes them to suffer, their businesses, and those below them?

It’s called detachment. Sometimes when people get put into these positions, they get detached. They get detached from the reality of what’s happening in their company, what’s happening on the front lines.

They get detached from the people, from the positions that they used to be in, and they no longer can see from that perspective. And then often they don’t try. So why does this happen? Why do people get detached? Well, sometimes it’s simple arrogance. Sometimes when people get into a leadership position, they become arrogant.

(01:18)

They think they are better just because they’re in that position. So they don’t take the time to talk, and they don’t take the time to learn. They just think they know better already. That’s one reason.

Another reason, it’s kind of what we talked about in the past episode is that people sometimes get put in the position sometimes for the wrong reasons, and then they’re not trained. They’re not trained in how to be a great leader, how to stay attached, in the know of what’s going into the company, and the best practices when it comes to implementing new policies or changes and things of that nature.

Sometimes when people are put in those positions, kind of what we mentioned before with arrogance is sometimes people just think they know better because they’re in that position. It might be because they have a different view of the leadership position, you know you’re supposed to see the big picture.

(02:08)

That’s part of what you do. You’re supposed to cast vision. But sometimes when we’re in that position, it can be easy to think we know better because we’re in that position. We may make rules, changes, new policies, and implementations, often with good intentions, and good wishes, but it ends up hurting instead of helping because we are detached from the front.

What happens is, we sometimes come from the positions below. We may have been a salesperson before we knew what it was like to be in sales. We knew what it was like to have to fill out the paperwork, the online platforms to visit the people, and so on.

But sometimes when we get into a management position, we forget what that’s like. Or as a teacher, someone’s a teacher and they’ve been a teacher for a few years, they get moved up to another position.

A leader must make sure you understand the perspective of the front lines, you’re listening to their ideas, and implement things that are good.

(02:57)

Sometimes it can be easy to forget what it’s like to be a teacher. When we get into those positions, sometimes we lose that connection. And so often for good reasons, we think we may know what’s best. So we make these rules and changes trying to help or do good things or move the company organization forward. But it ends up not being the best because of that disconnect.

So in those cases, what we need to do is make sure we’re connected, make sure we’re talking to the people below us, make sure we understand the perspective of the front lines, make sure we’re listening to the front lines, make sure we’re listening to their ideas and implementing things that are good.

One mistake leaders make is that because they think they are a leader, they have the best ideas and that’s so often not true.

(03:46)

Often you’ll find some of the best ideas comes from those who are on the front line. Sometimes the ones who can come up with the best ideas about how to clean the building better are the ones who clean the building.

Sometimes the ones who can come up with the best ideas and solutions and how they teach our kids better are the ones who are teaching them. So it’s important that we listen to those who are in those positions who are on the front lines. Make sure you talk to them and make sure you listen.

Why is it necessary to have open communication with the front lines?

(04:15)

Make sure there’s open communication and that they feel safe talking with you, that they feel safe, that they won’t be reprimanded or lose their job or whatever it may be because they bring up an issue or because they bring up an idea.

Make sure they know and show that when they present an idea or solution or suggestion that it’s going to actually be considered. Too often people put on the face of, we want to hear from you, but they don’t show it with their actions.

They may have one of those nods that kind of gives the impression of, I hear you, but not really. I’m not listening. I know better because I’m a leader. Or they may just never do anything with it. The ideas may just be discarded just because they’re not from leadership, they’re from those below.

What are the terrible consequences when there’s a lack of trust in a leader?

(04:58)

One reason that leaders don’t get the input they should from the front lines that don’t listen, don’t get the suggestions, and don’t get the ideas, is because of a lack of trust.

We’ve talked about it. They think they know better. They think sometimes it’s arrogance and other reasons, but sometimes it’s because there’s a lack of trust. They feel they have to control them to do what they need to do to make things happen.

(05:21)

They don’t trust the people in those positions to do it well. So they feel like they have to make all these policies that they have to follow to make sure they do it right or they don’t trust them to make decisions. So they make all the decisions, go back to them, and leave the person on the front lines kind of powerless in what they do.

That is terrible when it comes to motivation, morale, productivity, and good customer service. I tell you one of the most annoying things in customer service is when you’re trying to call and get the situation solved and they’re like, oh, I have to talk to my manager. Oh, I have to talk to somebody else. Don’t do that.

Why is it best to empower the front lines to make decisions?

(05:59)

The best companies are the ones who empower those on the front lines to make decisions in regard to the problems they’re facing in their position.

Let me say that again. Some of the best companies are those that empower the front lines, and the people in the front to make decisions to solve the problems that they encounter in their position.

If you really want great customer service, if you want good morale from your people, give them decision-making power.

"The best companies are the ones who empower those on the front lines to make decisions in regard to the problems they're facing in their position." ~ Thomas R. Harris Click To Tweet

If you feel like you can’t trust them, that again is on you for whatever policies, expectations, the culture you built, people you hired, and so on. In fact, John Maxwell and other authors say you should put the decision-making power closest to the problem.

You can because what often happens is that those who have the decision-making power are far from the problem and those who are closest to the problem and have the most knowledge, have the least amount of decision-making power.

So you need to give decision-making power to those closest to the problem to solve it. Otherwise, you end up slowing the process, causing issues, hurting your customer service, demoralizing your team, and so on.

(07:10)

So in summary, when the great danger when someone gets put into a leadership position is detachment, this happens because sometimes when we get away from that position, we forget what it’s like to be in that position.

Sometimes it’s because of arrogance because we think we know better because of a lack of training. Whatever it may be, sometimes there’s a disconnect.

There’s a detachment and the decisions are made in that detachment, even with good intentions, even with good whys but the results are not good because of that detachment from the front lines.

Sometimes the reason there’s this detachment, poor rules, and so on is because of a lack of trust and control. If you want the most effective company, you need to build a culture of safety because the best ideas come from those on the front lines.

Build a culture of safety, welcome those ideas, accept them and put decision-making power in the hands of those on the front line so they can handle the problems they face without always having to go to a manager. Doing that will help you build a better company.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of No More Bad Leaders. If this episode meant something to you, I would be honored if you share it with someone who would benefit from it. You can find more episodes here.

If you have any comments, questions, or inquiries, feel free to contact me.

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