“You know what your problem is? You have too much money.”
I explained, “What you’re doing is working, as evidenced by your profits and share value. So, you have no real reason to change. You can keep doing what you’re doing, and it’ll work … for now. After all, it did for Kodak, Motorola, and others.”
After an awkward silence, one of the executive team members said, “OMG, are we being complacent?”
This was an actual conversation during an executive offsite I was facilitating.
One possible scenario is that my work with this executive team was about to end.
However, this executive team went on to become one of the best I’ve had the honour to work with.
The key to their transformation was their willingness to look at things differently.
It’s easy to point at executives as the problem for whatever is holding change back. I know this as I’ve seen too many people do it.
To be fair, several executives have made some fairly bad moves that have gone viral on social media. In other words, like any person in any position, you may have a bad apple.
However, bad apples aren’t the norm.
Take, for example, when executives are laying people off.
There’s been a lot of this lately in the high-tech sector. And, with each round of layoffs, there’s plenty of activity on social media criticizing execs for being shortsighted, cruel, or incompetent.
In fact, laying off people is simply a part of what these managers believe to be normal.
It seems mass layoffs started to be normal in the 70s.
This means for more than four decades, managers have hired people knowing they could be laid off if things don’t go to plan.
Why would a manager see layoffs as anything but normal, given they have been the norm longer than most people have been working?
This doesn’t make someone a bad manager. It simply means they don’t see any other approaches to managing.
Some situations happen daily in which managers get blamed for being in the way or the problem.
What if you approach everyone assuming they’re doing their best based on what they think is right and normal?
Don’t get frustrated with them or blame them for how things are.
Instead, explain what you’re seeing and ask them how they see it.
If they struggle to see what you’re seeing, ask them what would help them see things differently.
Sometimes, they don’t have the same visibility into the data you’re looking at.
Other times, they might need time with the team to understand.
Whatever it is, rather than asking them to blindly trust you, help them see things differently.
All I know is blaming them for your problems won’t solve anything.
Leadership has nothing to do with a title or position. So, regardless of where you are in the organization, be the amazing leader I know you are.
You’ve got this.