The Leadership Challenge

The Leadership Challenge.png

I was working recently with a group of leaders in the healthcare industry and it got me thinking
about the common challenges that all leaders face. It seems that wherever we travel as leadership development consultants, these variables keep surfacing.

How well these five principles are addressed may be the difference between change efforts that succeed and those that fail. They also impact trust. The trust factor is paramount for collaboration and organizational success.  Unfortunately, a lot of time and energy may be wasted in dealing with the absence of one of these five principles.

The Leadership challenge:

1.      We chose how we respond - This seems simple enough to understand however there are
times when even the most experienced leaders may violate this principle. A lot of time and energy has been devoted to the subject of managerial self-control.  I.e. keeping your saw nice and sharp, finding balance and symmetry with Body Mind and Spirit. Regardless of how well
we achieve this ideal, we still choose how we respond.

2.      We own our team's work product – As with many teams, the leader experience people challenges. The leader is ultimately responsible for their teams work product.  this may mean that underperformers get managed up or out allowing the leader to devote more time with performers and high potentials.

3.      We lead with balance, wisdom, and sufficient EQ - Leaders who understand balance wisdom and EQ are likely to have high-performing teams.  Balance means that the leaders own limitations are not imputed as team limitations. It is the wise manager who knows but they don't know and have sufficient emotional maturity to navigate in that space.

4.      We forfeit schadenfreude when we sit in the Leader's chair - Schadenfreude means pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune, aka “dishing the dirt.” It is the opposite of Leadership. Grip it and zip it.

We win together as a Team and Organization - Very often we see organizations that have
fallen into the trap of believing that component pieces can function in isolation or independently.  Not so. Successful techniques for bunker busting include: revising internal communication plans; leadership advocacy; cross functional / non-routine ROI or efficiency summits; and humility in the form of good old fashioned team-work.

How’s Your Attitude Indicator?

The attitude indicator on an airplane is very important. It informs the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to the horizon, so it must be correct at all times regardless of the plane's movements. Not to freak anybody out, but if a plane continually turns on autopilot, it may end up doing what pilots call the “graveyard spiral.” This means flight instruments wouldn't be able to distinguish between a “normal” gradual turn and steeper movements, thus requiring an attitude check.

And so it is with us:

·       Are we aware of what our attitude indicators are?

·       Have we checked our attitude indicator recently?

·       Are we checking our attitude indicator periodically?

·       How are our attitude indicators kept from drifting?

·       Are we continuously on Auto-Pilot?

The answers to the questions above go a long way to determining our personal and profession flight path. We have heard it said that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. This means turning off our personal auto-pilot about what we thought we knew and getting leveled in an accurate way.

At Voltage Leadership, we sometimes hear of an issue with a leader or a staff member. It often sounds like this, “What’s the issue? They are difficult. What does that mean? They have a bad attitude. How do I fix their attitude?”

Here are some tips and tools to help level out attitudes: (our own and others)   

·       Install or update personal Attitude Indicator 2.0

·       Take responsibility for Piloting our own craft

·       Focus on arriving in one piece vs being “right”

·       Devise and communicate an excellent Flight Plan

·       Treat Flight Path Corrections as valuable learning experiences

·       Manage personal Energy in addition to Time to keep Level

·       Remove any Schadenfreude from the Auto-Pilot

·       Take time to compliment the Flight Crew

·       Enjoy the ride with an Attitude of Gratitude

For a deeper dive into how to help establish and foster contagious positive attitudes at your organization, check out this episode of the VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.


Wild- adjective, something or someone that is untamed, uncontrolled or unrestrained

Innocent- adjective, not responsible for or directly involved yet suffering its consequences

Shuffle- adjective, a dance done every day and every night with no clear steps, just to get by

On my way in to work last week, I noticed that the highway was jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive. It made me wonder, why were they on this power drive? The power drive can loosely be interpreted as turf protecting, aka the accumulation of political “power” with an end goal of spending it on the perceived need for self-preservation.

The power drive is often symptomatic of the “C-Suite Shuffle” (ie, senior leadership or systems that are more concerned with “looking good” vs ensuring that roles, responsibilities and expectations are 100% crystal clear for all downstream stakeholders). The result may be a disconnect from middle management and the front-line job doers (the very people needed to deliver the desired results).

Lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities and expectations results in Confusion, Drama and Frustration or “CDF.” Once a culture is afflicted with CDF, it is very hard to de-toxify. It can lead to circumstances that cause some people to do something Wild. This may be the long-term contributor who has been a great employee but has become so frustrated, one day they do their best “George Bailey” and exit in flames of glory.

Lack of clarity may also impact the Innocent super star and rising star employees who may feel they have not been “heard.” Weary from the drama of living with the power drive and being very marketable, they defect, further exacerbating Confusion, Drama and Frustration.

Fortunately, we have an excellent tool to keep us from walking into a Tenth Avenue Freezeout. And it works with every level applied to. It’s called Ownership: 5 Steps to breakdown Confusion, Drama and Frustration.

Step 1: Each Team has its own Mission - Vision and Values that drives its behaviors & code of conduct.  This is not the same as the organization’s MVV and applies to every Team from the C-Suite on down.

Step 2: Each Team’s leader, regardless of their title, is responsible for ensuring that roles, responsibilities and expectations are 100% crystal clear for all stakeholders.

Step 3:  Each Team’s leader is responsible for ensuring that any issues resulting from Group Dynamics are handled by confirming that Step 2 took place. Absent that, it’s a performance issue for the Group.

Step 4:  Each Team’s leader is responsible for ensuring that issues resulting from Interpersonal Dynamics are handled by confirming that Step 2 took place. Absent that, it’s a performance issue for them.

Step 5:  Each Team’s leader is responsible for ensuring that issues resulting from Individual Dynamics are handled by confirming that Step 2 took place. Absent that, it’s a performance issue for the person.

Good luck and let us know how it goes. You can send us a comment or even your favorite Bruce Springsteen song if you want to!