Phony Leadership

I’m really getting tired on Phony Leaders, and the Phony Media that props them up.  And I am not just talking about political leaders, but also business leaders that make up things and are allowed to get away with it by a biased media.

I’m not so old to remember when the American Media would go after any lying leader that was twisting the truth to make their problems go away.  These reporters would go after the details and expose the lies, and were relentless until things changed or apologies came out.  They were the defenders of truth, and were respected and trusted.

Unlike in the past when everyone was called out for being phony, the media is playing favorites and backing up the phony people only when it suits their political beliefs.  If you are lucky to be on the winning side, you can stand up and call all of your troubles “phony” and the media will jump right in there and defend your beliefs and assumptions and validate them as truth.

I long for honest leadership.  I look for honest leadership.  I know it exists, but it is not getting the same press as the phony leader does.

The only thing we can do as individuals is to follow honest leaders and avoid and boycott phony leaders and those that support phony leaders.  Leaders are only successful if they have people who will follow them.  It is time to follow a better kind of leader!

Inspect What You Expect

While it is an old adage from management development training, managers should always be “inspecting the work environment for what they expect to happen.”  Nothing seems to be left to chance more often these days than Customer Service.

Have you noticed that the people you interact with at the market, bank or retail store these days are either very into making you feel like a valuable person, or they hardly acknowledge you are there at all?  I am always on the lookout for friendly and service focused people, and I make it a point to go and talk with a manager when I find one of these top-notch people.

Sadly I spend little time seeking out managers, because the level of service is so poor overall.  And yet this past week while shopping at PetSmart, I was impressed with a technique used to check out my cart load of cat food cans quickly.  I commented to this guy that he should share it with others as it makes the checkout process easier for the customer.  He smiled, thanked me for noticing, and said he would.  He made my day, and I appeared to make his.

So I sought out the manager.  I told her about my experience, his very positive response, and she replied, “really?”  I elaborated, and she just said, “okay” and walked away.  Wow, she was so unimpressed with a staff member, and yet she is the ultimate person in this store responsible for the customer experience.  I was left with the impression I had wasted her time, that she was flabbergasted that this guy was any good, and was not going to do or say anything after parting ways with me.

If she takes the time to inspect and catch people doing things right, it was not apparent, because this particular employee is always outgoing and pleasant to people.  In fact most of the check out staff is this way, but I am left wondering if she knows it.  How lucky she is to have this kind of staff, and how her competition could benefit if they could hire them away.

So when you are out there looking to catch your employees demonstrating desired behaviors, don’t be stingy with the compliments.  And when you find things happening that are not as you expect, make sure to address them with the employee soon, but always in private.

Over Empowering People

I firmly believe in the dynamics of empowering people and unleashing their potentials, but I’ve recently had that thinking challenged a bit by an organization that seems to have over empowered their employees.  Initiatives that require all hands on deck, sailing in the same direction are sinking because everyone has been empowered to think and act outside the box.

What happens if senior management agrees on a new sales or service approach, and then the next level of management is split 50/50 on staying with the old way and moving forward with the new way?  I have a single word – Chaos!

Not that over empowering happens very often, as a lot of organizations are still struggling with empowering anyone, but what do we do to prevent empowering from growing into an unwieldy force?  How do we set limitations without squashing creativity?

Let’s look at an example of a new strategy for customer service.  In many financial organizations because of the regular turnover of staff, company wide training initiatives become the first steps in refocusing everyone’s attention on service.  Should the training events become optional or mandatory?  I say they need to be mandatory to begin with the consistent message.  In fact groups of mixed experience levels with customer service often enhance the learning process.

What about when these skills learned in training are to be implemented?  Should they be required to be demonstrated as learned, or subject to local managers desire to go a different route?  I say they need to be required to use the skills as learned or the training was a waste of time and money.

Okay, then what about enhancing what was learned, or doing more than what is required?  I say, empower away!  Go out and improve on the model and may the best service provider win!

You see that empowering has its place in the process, as does follow the leader.  And here my friends is where the rubber hits the road.  Leaders must know when to lead and direct, as well as when to let go of the reins and unleash empowerment.

What are your thoughts?