For a number of years I have had a job where the primary goals were to ensure that my leadership was successful and that our team would deliver on our promises. Technically, this team should have been eliminated with one of the many reorganizations that we have endured, but we weren’t. As a matter of fact, our breadth of influence has continued to expand over the years.
I take great pride in the fact we have not only survived, but thrived. What makes me sad is the lack of understanding about what it has taken to ride these waves of change and continued forward. It takes a lot of hard work to remain relevant in an ever-changing environment. Essentially, what we did yesterday is not necessarily what we will be doing tomorrow. The only way that we have been successful is through honest, open communication and a trusting relationship.
The most recent direct leadership change broke the rules. The recently promoted Gen X’er is clueless. There is a lot of power-tripping going on and a complete lack of communication. The team has never been this disjointed and the morale can’t get much lower. To be honest, these are the results of poor leadership and devaluation of the individual. Ironically, this Gen-X leader reads lots of materials on how to manage and tries to implement them. We have more checklists than anyone has ever seen, but they are just that – checklists. Checklists without culture are worthless. I equate them to lousy phone trees you encounter on thoughtless interactive voice response systems. You do them just to get through to the next prompt, but the experience is anything but delightful. There are no trusted relationships left of the team. There are people going through the motions and there is absolutely no room for feedback or negotiation.
Since the latter years of MCI/Worldcomm, my favorite message has been ‘Perception is reality.’ That was their tagline and it really is a good reminder for anyone who ever engages in communication. The message you are sending may mean one thing, but if the receiver perceives it to mean something different, the reality is the receiver’s perception is the meaning that will be consumed. Advice to all leaders out there, when someone tells you this is their perception of your message, listen to them. It is important to hear what is being said. This is your opportunity to clarify an misperceptions and shouldn’t be used by you to defend what you meant. If there is a strong disagreement between what you meant and the actual perception, work needs to be done together to bridge that gap.
I realize that this under-qualified leader has been promoted beyond her capabilities and we have spent the last few months trying to improve the situation, but without active listening and participation on this leader’s part, nothing will change. This leader has broken the trust and is on an all out war against successfully achieving team goals. My perception, which is my reality, is that we no longer have a solid vision and without vision, we are dead.
In years gone by, I would have dug in and tried to improve the situation, but not anymore. My reality is my perception and currently I am perceiving a lack of appreciation for what it truly takes to get things done and I don’t feel like explaining it anymore. What does that mean? It is time for a new job. So I am starting a quest to locate an organization that shares my values of professionalism, hard work, open, honest communications, accountability, reliability, fairness, honest days work for an honest day’s pay. I used to work in that environment, but the recent culture shift has eliminated those shared values.