Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boss, stop adding Value!

Surprised? I am sure you are not because most of us have wished this at some point in our career where we want our managers to stop adding value. I spent some time studying this in little more detail as part of my Psychology curriculum and here is what I discovered.

Disclaimer: This blog is specifically meant for team of high performers where not only the leader but a number of direct reports are high performers, self motivated and truly charged up to make a difference. Wherever this isn't the case either because of lack of skill/experience or motivation of the team, bosses need to use little autocratic styles of leadership and this article is irrelevant for such situations.

However what has been observed in high performing teams is that leaders often have a tendency to add value by always having an opinion in everything that their team does. Interestingly various authors who have studied this behavior argue that often there isn't more than additional 10% a leader can add to what the team has already thought through and planned. However in an attempt to add small incremental value the leader often ends up demotivating the team from executing 90%. Why ? Because the idea isn't their's anymore!

Those of you who understand what execution is all about would appreciate that any business plan executed to even 90% can do wonders! 

So why try to extract another 10% right away ? And why does a leader knowingly jeopardizes 90% execution by merely trying to add 10% value. Two reasons:

A. Not knowing how others feel and the impact their action has on others
B. Serious gap in the team's thought-process

Whereas A) is related to leadership maturity and EQ, B can perhaps be handled using 1-on-1 communication - Phone and/or email. I remember reading about leaders who would listen to a business plan very carefully and keenly and then later write a long email describing what they liked and what could be improved rather than react during meetings.

At the end a great leader is one who keeps a close eye but mostly stays out of the way of her team after having assured that she is always available to help, whenever anyone needs her.

It has been my fortune to have worked for several such leaders  and I wish one day I could stand in their league !

Always trying to add value isn't great leadership because it doesn't help in building a great team.


Nikhil Goel said...

Vow !. Great new dimesion to look at leadership.

raj111 said...

Interesting point, belief in the team and transparency might also help.

Anonymous said...

Wow Sir, I think I have read it at correct time. I have experienced it today and going to forward it to someone :)