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I asked if I could sit in on a team meeting to scope out situation. "Be my guest," he said. "But I don't see what good it'll do. The problem isn't in meetings. Everybody agrees what needs to get done when they're in meetings. The problem is results after meetings."
The meeting had been going only for only a couple of minutes when I saw what was wrong. Afterwards, alone in his office, I told him: "They're not problem. YOU'RE problem. You've fallen into two leadership traps."
He looked at me incredulously. "What traps?"
I explained that leaders often fall into traps that prevent them from getting full measure of results they're capable of. And deadliest traps are often ones of their own making.
The first trap is "I need . . . " trap.
Leaders fall into this trap when they say, "I need you to hit marketing targets, I need you to get more productive, I need you to (fill in blank)". I NEED ... I NEED ... I NEED ....
Why is this a trap? The answer: Leader's Fallacy. The Leader's Fallacy is mistaken belief by leaders that their own needs are automatically reciprocated by needs of people they lead. It's a fallacy because automatic reciprocity doesn't exist. But so many leaders go blithely along driven by Fallacy and so fall into "I need . . . " trap.
For instance, marketing leader thought he was motivating people to get great results. However, during meeting, he was constantly repeating, "I need ... ". So, in reality, he was ordering people to get average results. Of course, leaders don't order people to get average results. But average results are usually outcome of order leadership.
The order is lowest form of motivation. The order leader's focus of my-way-or-the-highway can't get great results from people on a consistent basis simply because people usually can't be ordered to undertake extraordinary endeavors. They must choose to do so. When he said, "The bad news is they ONLY do what I tell them.", he was unknowingly afflicting them. They were simply responding to an order then going into a kind of suspended animation (masked by busy work) until next order came along.
In Part 2, I'll describe how to get out of this trap.
2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at http://www.actionleadership.com