Own Your Leaders’ Development…not Their Symptoms

November 18, 2009

Are the leaders you supervise growing and developing?
Are they taking ownership of the challenges they face, or are they laying the burden on you?

There are certain statements you might hear from leaders or staff that raise a red flag. Often, these statements are symptoms of a larger problem. They indicate that it’s time for a leader to take a personal inventory and for you to help him or her develop.

Five of them are listed below, along with my suggested responses to each. In the past week I have heard all of these except for number five, which I typically hear from departments located off-site from the main campus.

  1. From a leader: “The staff does not feel appreciated.”
    Ask the leader, “What do you feel you need to do for the staff to feel appreciated?” Help her own the situation. If she doesn’t own the situation, she won’t own a solution. Ask her, based on the feedback she receives when rounding on support staff or patients, “How much recognition have you harvested and shared with your staff? How often have you managed up staff to me as your leader?” Have your leaders ask each staff person what they are looking for in terms of appreciation. They can share a time when they felt appreciated so the leaders have a clear example to follow. I find leaders may feel they are showing appreciation, but staff may not see it that way. Tell them: “Don’t guess; ask. Don’t fall into the trap of feeding victim behavior. Finally, let staff also know what you are looking for in performance so that you’ll have the opportunity to show appreciation.”
  2. From a staff member: “I like my leader because he protects me.” Or, “My leader stands up for us!”
    Ask the staff member, “Protects you from what? Why do you feel you need protection? What, specifically, is your leader standing up for?” I guarantee you will hear comments that indicate the leader may not have the skill to explain things or handle tough questions without putting others in a negative light. The better leaders see themselves as leaders in the organization first, then as leaders of their department.
  3. From a staff member: “I want my leader to be on equal footing with other leaders so she can go toe-to-toe with them.”
    This statement was made regarding a situation in which some staff members felt that if their leader was at the same level as the leader’s supervisor or another leader then things would be better. This is usually a skill issue. In other words, the leader does not have the skill to communicate why certain decisions were made and that she supports the decision.
  4. From a staff member when her boss is present: “I don’t feel that I’m getting the professional development I need, and my supervisor agrees.”
    Ask the staff member and leader how often they meet to discuss development. Ask to see the plan. Most likely there is not one. Again, the leader may not have the skill to create the plan or the organizational ability to make it happen. He might also be telling staff that he can’t give them the development they want because of the budget, the policy, or because, “You know how Tom is….” He is not owning the department. Also ask the staff person what actions she is taking for her development. Too often in healthcare, people exhibit “adult child” actions. Here the staff member is not owning her own development. I have even seen leaders invite their leaders or other C-Suite people to the department so staff can ask questions directly. If you are in this situation, ask the department leader to answer any questions about professional development first, before you answer them.
  5. From a leader: “My area feels like the red-headed stepchild.”
    When I heard this statement, I asked the leader why the staff felt that way. She said it was because they were not located on the main campus and no one came to see them. They were left out at times. They didn’t feel included. I asked what she was doing to address these things, and I got a blank stare. I asked her how often staff members invited others to the department and how often she invited senior leaders over. I noticed they had a nice large room. I asked her if she ever suggested they move a department meeting from across the street to their meeting room. If she did that, I pointed out, with one action all of the department directors would now be over here. I asked her whether she interacted with other leaders, or whether she stayed in this off-site building all the time. By now you can guess the response I received. My main message to her was to integrate herself first, and then integrate the department. Don’t be a victim. To her credit she quickly did those things and more. Things got better.

The leaders of the leaders in these five scenarios were taking too much responsibility on themselves. My advice: Own what you feel you need to own, but give the rest right back to the leaders you supervise.

As a leader it’s natural to want to take ownership. But take ownership of how you are developing those who report to you, not ownership of their problems.

Don’t fall victim to the symptoms of an under-developed, under-skilled leader. If you fix the symptoms, those reporting to you will actually think it is your job and will not learn to take ownership. By empowering them to attack the symptoms at the source, you’ll ultimately help create happier, healthier leaders—and a happier, healthier organization.

Sincerely,

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group
http://www.studergroup.com

 


Follow Studer Group on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.Com/StuderGroup.

 

Join Studer Group’s Facebook fan page at http://www.Facebook.com/StuderGroup.

Click here for more information on Quint’s new book, Straight A Leadership: Alignment, Action and Accountability.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: