How many times have you had a medical issue you considered to be minor, and instead of going to the doctor, you googled the topic, asked friends or family for advice and visited the drug or grocery store for solutions to address it? All of this only to realize after a period of weeks that you really needed expert help. Even if you had health insurance, you didn’t want to take the time to visit the doctor’s office, get a prescription, go through a medical procedure, or worse, hear news you didn’t want to hear. This “bad news” might range from a firm directive to change your eating or health habits, or worse, a condition left untreated has reached a serious state. It now requires greater intervention, greater disruption of your “normal” routine, and significant stress to manage through it all. You took a risk and now you’re dealing with the consequences.
What similar risks are you taking with you and your team’s leadership effectiveness? How are you developing their leadership capabilities to be able to accomplish organizational objectives? How are you addressing leadership issues? When challenges occur with interpersonal relationships between colleagues, performance and cohesiveness of team members, alignment with organizational goals, organizational transitions and change, are you able to correctly assess your ability to manage these situations? How do you address culture change? When do you determine you need a different approach or a third-party intervention to facilitate the right discussion and help you prepare a different strategy?
Why You Can’t Do It
Though you may be effective as a leader, there are some leadership issues that will still be beyond your capability or capacity. And here are five reasons why.
- Perspective – You don’t know what you can’t see. You’re too close to the issue, too emotionally invested in it to be able to understand or seriously consider other points of view and try different approaches.
- Expertise – You don’t know everything. There is no one right way to lead. There are many theories, models, tools, and even best practices vary based on the setting, the issue, the culture and the team. An experienced professional can help you improve self and organizational awareness, navigate uncharted waters, facilitate difficult conversations, develop teams and build leadership capabilities.
- Time – You don’t have time to do everything yourself. You must maximize your own efforts on responsibilities which require your functional and strategic input and attention and leverage other experts to address topics to support you.
- Cost – You can’t afford the risk of not handling it properly. If you neglect to address an emerging leadership issue it can negatively impact client relationships, employee engagement, revenues, innovation, product quality, and internal and external reputation. There are countless stories of organizations who thought they were effectively handling workplace situations only to have it literally crumble in front of them.
- Impact – You can’t miss your business targets. The return on investment of having good leadership in place to manage through other business challenges is almost priceless. And failure in this area compounds the cost issue noted above.
No matter the size of your organization, you will benefit from some level of strategic leadership and organizational development support to work with your leadership team to accomplish goals. Unfortunately, in my work I see too many leaders and organizations experiencing problems who practice delay and denial in bringing in the help they truly need. And like a crisis call to a physician when a medical issue is exacerbated, they make a crisis call to a consultant when the issue is creating a toxic workplace or a project is in trouble.
A Proactive Approach
Instead of being reactive, there are a few proactive steps to help you attain and sustain a healthy leadership team and workplace.
- Develop a strategic relationship with leadership experts when you don’t need it. Get to know professionals who have capabilities that may be beneficial to your team. Ensure there’s a good fit with their philosophy, style and approach.
- Select one to meet with periodically, but regularly, to review the status of the team. Build the relationship by scheduling meetings with your leaders to gather baseline information on the organization, discuss any issues and identify opportunities to address.
- Engage the person in advance of major initiatives to ensure your strategies properly address the people who make your work successful.
You may still be thinking all of this is unnecessary, that you are capable of handling the leadership development issues within your team. You may be fortunate to have a naturally good approach, but there will still be situations where you need a different perspective and expertise. And failure to reach out to a professional may devastate the trust and engagement in your organization. Don’t engage in risky behavior. You can’t fix everything yourself.