WANTED: An Un-Corruptible (Servant) Leader

I live and work in Southern California where as of late the newspapers have been full of stories for months about corruptible city leaders that have misappropriated money, taken bribes, stolen whatever wasn’t nailed down and an assortment of other activities that were not part of their job description.

In a world more closely integrated we have different ethnic groups as well as both male and female “leaders” that are exchanging their previous titles of “Mayor” and “Councilmember” for “DEFENDANT!”

I guess the good news is we are uncovering all of the corruption and prosecuting these fine citizens, but why is this even necessary?

High Unemployment Should Mean Something!

I sometimes think I live under a rock, but with unemployment so high nearly everywhere, I can’t help but think this should be the time for employees to behave better than ever, if for no other reason than to keep their jobs.  I mean, being fired for embezzlement is not a sure-fire way to get unemployment compensation or move to the top of the list for your next job opportunity.

Servant Leadership is about Serving!

Those of us that practice Servant Leadership know first hand that the key to our success is to put the needs of our employees, teams, managers and clients ahead of our own needs.  The concept of public service and/or public servant should be even more aligned with the basic principles of Servant Leadership.

However, for many of the folks in my part of the country, it would appear that they are reading the flip side of the Servant Leadership book, which as we know is the Self-Serving Leader.  For those of us that train Servant Leadership we now have so many examples of the self-serving leader that we can paint wall murals instead of the occasional example.  But that is simply the silver lining part of a very bad trend in government leaders today.

Corruptible Leaders are Everywhere, Unfortunately!

Although it is the headlines about city government that prompts this discussion, unfortunately self-serving leaders seem to be sprouting up in all industries.  Yet whether it is government or Corporate America, the trend cannot continue.

I blame the lack of quality leadership development that begins at the beginning stages of communication skills and continues through an individual’s career with inadequate development programs or none at all.  Companies are actually growing corruptible leaders because they are failing to develop un-corruptible leaders.

No Money for Training Leadership Development!

The number one excuse for not training leadership development is a lack of budget.  My guess is the money is being saved for attorney fees, liability insurance and to cover losses from corruptible employees.  I can only imagine that annually company managers are assessing if they are budgeting enough for these categories, while at the same time they are cutting back on the preventative maintenance of a quality development program.

Why has leadership development become an option?  Why has the corporate leader allowed the succession advancement of employees to continue without the appropriate skill development? 

WANTED: An Un-Corruptible (Servant) Leader

I read an interesting job posting a couple of weeks ago that was looking for “a Real Training Manager.”  The word “real” caught my attention that this company needed a skilled professional this time.  And, having known who they were replacing I saw the connection.

So what would be the harm in posting and describing what you are looking for in your next corporate leader?  Why not just spell it out with words like Un-corruptible, Ethical, Honorable, Trustworthy etc.?

This blog was originally published on May 13, 2011 on Linked2Leadership

My Employee Taken For Granted?

I bet that if you were to stop for three seconds and ask yourself if you have ever felt taken for granted that it wouldn’t take you long to say yes.  Now, imagine that I was asking one of your employees that question, and you were the person they were thinking of when they said yes.

Odds are very high that we have at times felt that our manager took us for granted at different times.  Yet what if we make it a practice to take all of our employees for granted most if not all of the time?

My definition of taking someone for granted is that we assume that everything they do for us, whether it is good performance or the above and beyond activities are covered by the employee compensation and benefits package.  Even if your employee is highly compensated, it is not an excuse for you to treat them as if their contribution to your team and/or organization is never going to change.

If there is one area of management development that is under developed it is recognition and appreciation.  As managers we need to be constantly aware of what we are doing for our employees as much as what they are doing for us.  In a blog I wrote last week, I mentioned that the former cocooning employee is breaking out and moving on to greener pastures.  How much faster will they leave if in addition to thinking that another job will offer them more perks than the one they have now, but they also feel taken for granted by you too?

Now while it is bad enough that we take our paid employees for granted, I’d like you to consider your behavior and relationships with non-employees that hold your company together.  Maybe you employ consultants, contractors, and temporary help.  Do these people enjoy their quid pro quo relationship with you and your company?  Do they ever feel taken for granted?

Some of you may use volunteers, interns and business associates for part-time work, or feedback and insights.  This group receives no compensation and thus is looking for something in return for their participation in your company’s success.  Do you treat them well, or over the years do a lot of these people no longer have anything to do with you?  Humm, did they feel taken advantage of?

Bottom line no one likes to be taken for granted, least of all any of us reading this, so why on earth would you risk it all to let it happen to the people who keep your team and company purring along?

Cocooning is Over!

 I’ve been reading the weekly newsletter for The Herman Group for several years now, and when they first began talking about employees that are “cocooning” until things got better I was more than fascinated with their take on the subject.

Cocooning (in my words) is the act of staying put in a job, company or position for fear that the grass is browner on the other side, and that no matter how bad the current job is, things could be worse.  For the past several years employees have been cocooning all across the country in small, medium and large companies waiting for the economy to change and feel more comfortable taking the risk of changing jobs.

For all of these same years, consultants like myself have been trying to get companies to change their ways and use this cocooning environment to their advantage to find ways to keep their employees even after the economy gets better.

Well, even though the economy is not even close to a recovery, employees are breaking free of their cocoons and taking the risk of job changes.  So the window to change the work environment is slamming shut while senior managers are standing around losing employees and completely dumbfounded as to why.

According to The Herman Group, about 1/3 of the Baby Boomers are set to leave their jobs because their past hard work and loyalty has not been rewarded and appreciated by their employers.  About 2/3 of the X Generation are leaving because of a complete Lack of Career Progression.

The millennial generation, which has been the hardest so far to keep, is only going to hang on to about 1/3.  This 1/3 does feel that they have a career path, leadership development and a trust in corporate leaders.  But what does that say about the 2/3 that are ready to bolt?

Attention must be paid to the retention efforts of existing employees!  If your Human Resources and Training Function is doing nothing, they are either unaware of how to change the environment, or they are looking to create their own job security by a constant revolving door of employees coming and going.

Are you worried about the future of your workforce?  If so, it is time to do more than worry.  Cocooning is over!

The Fairness Factor

There has been a lot of talk these days about fairness in the way we treat almost everything and everybody, and yet talk is only good if it is walked.  In other words do we practice fairness?

Too often I have worked in environments that the concept of fairness is only that, a concept.  Oh it is preached at the highest levels, but when it comes to the rubber hitting the road, politics and friendships will win out everyday of the week.

Frankly if you are a manager and/or leader and cannot say for certain that you treat everyone the same, offer the same opportunities, and stage the environment for everyone to be successful then you are creating more havoc than you are success.  By giving some employees a better chance for success, better tools to achieve excellence and your right and left arm anytime they need it, you alienate the rest of your employees.

So What?  Well, I guess if you can’t stand the rest of the team and wish they would all go away, your wish will be granted soon.  However, my real guess is that they do provide value, and by losing any one of these people it would put a serious crimp in your personal success.

The sad truth is we know when we play favorites, and we are in control of our behaviors.  So if you lose an employee, ask yourself what you could have done to prevent it.  Better yet, ask yourself now how you could practice the fairness factor differently before you lose your next employee.