LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
Yes, we know you are very smart. Maybe you have been in leadership your entire career. You probably step into any vacuum of guidance or direction. Unfortunately, your great skill, natural ability, and lengthy tenure puts you at risk for being a Snowplow Leader. Yes, your intentions are pure. Your insightful words, along with a hurried application of institutional knowledge, ultimately improve the bottom line and protect the team from impending doom. Ahem, your intolerance, impatience, and risk-avoidance are showing!
When things are heading for disaster in the workplace, your reflexes press you to get involved. I am reminded of the Helicopter Parent (hovering over precious offspring, attending to every need– justified or otherwise) and the most recently identified Lawnmower or Bulldozer Parent (one who removes any and all obstacles from the path of their delicate children). Have you been in organizations where your manager was constantly interfering? How did that impact your growth? And attitude?
Snowplow Leaders (and parents) build trust by:
- Allowing Lessons: If you’ve learned lessons the hard way, you know they are the best remembered. Perhaps you have a few well-rehearsed accounts with added humor to conceal embarrassment. As leaders, we discern which hard way lessons can be learned by those in our employ. We are aiming for somewhere between “total disaster/there is no hope” and “that REALLY hurt/let the healing begin.”
- Deferring Anxiety: Snowplow Leaders know what it takes to get the job done! When it’s not getting done or done well, anxiety begins to build. As we develop others, our knowledge, experience, and concern must transfer to the apprentice. By asking open-ended questions rather than dictating, we shift the ownership, and hopefully, a bit of stress to the novice!
- Providing Space: Apparent micromanagement sends the wrong message. When we hover too close or clear obstacles too quickly, employees realize they don’t ultimately have or need to have ownership. Over time, commitment wanes because we’ve managed our upcoming leaders right out of their independent attempts to prevent or solve issues on their own.
No need to hover over employees or mow down their obstacles. Consider the source of intolerance, impatience, and risk-avoidance which are more about our own foibles and less about the shortcomings of our team members. Ultimately, we want to trust emerging leaders and resist the nagging reflex to get involved. Trust develops as we see tough lessons learned, healthy concern developed, and self-directed action taken. Eventually, new leaders will develop the ability to respond to adversity and make wise choices of their own.
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Micromanagement. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.