When you’re a leader, you’re overhead

Let's face it, when you're a leader, you're overhead.

According to recent research conducted by HBR, power can cause leaders to be come overly obsessed with outcomes and control and as a result often times treat their people as a means to an end.

This can start a deadly chain reaction.

By default, outcomes and control ramp up the natural fear instinct in people. Fear of not hitting the numbers, quota, losing bonuses. You get the drill. This can have the undesired byproduct of reducing people's problem solving inertia and desire.

The key, then, is to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.

HBR naturally advocated servant leadership that we have talked about numerous times before in this blog. Indeed, a learned behavior.

Servant-leaders have the humility, courage, and insight to admit that they can benefit from the expertise of others who have less power than them. They actively seek the ideas and unique contributions of the employees that they serve. This is how servant leaders create a culture of learning, and an atmosphere that encourages followers to become the very best they can. The responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers — to encourage them to think for themselves and try out their own ideas.

So, in closing, assuming you're buying into this thesis, how to get started.

Ask how you can help employees do their own jobs better — then listen (a/k/a "be appropriately humble and respectful"). In time and iteration, trust will improve between line and staff and this will get better. Be patient.