Boss watching is a fact of life in many organizations. Frontline employees are more concerned with keeping the boss happy than they are with keeping the customer happy. Leaders can help employees focus in the right direction by taking the mystery out of what people can expect from them as a leader.
Employees are always concerned about how their boss will react when he or she finds out about a situation. This uncertainty keeps people unwilling to step out of tightly defined roles for fear that they will do something wrong. People shouldn’t have to guess how their leader would respond. Leaders can improve the situation—and open up a little playing room for employees—by clearly sharing their expectations.
Have you shared your leadership expectations with your people—or are you expecting them to figure it out on their own from your actions? If your work relationship could use a little more clarity, here’s a three-step process to help you get started.
- Identify your leadership values. What do you believe about leadership? Where did you pick up those values? For most leaders, beliefs and values about leadership are picked up from influential people who have played a role in their early development. Who are the people who influenced you? What did you learn from them? Surprisingly, most leaders will point to someone outside a traditional leadership role as a key influencer in their life. Many times, for example, people will point to a parent, grandparent, or teacher as someone who most influenced their views.
- Define your leadership point of view. This answers the question, “A leader’s role is to ….” How would you fill in the rest of this sentence? Your answer provides the background for the action you’ll take in step three.
- Share and set expectations. Turn those internal thoughts into a communication plan by sharing your thinking with the people who report to you. People shouldn’t have to guess what you are thinking. Make it easy by clearly spelling out what people can expect from you as a leader—and what you expect from them in return.
Setting clear expectations is a great way to reduce the amount of time people spend wondering how the boss will react to a certain situation. It provides some clarity and definition of the playing field that gives people the peace of mind that they can step out boldly and confidently knowing that they are working in accordance with the direction their boss wants them to go. You shouldn’t be a mystery. Your leadership values should be an open book.
To learn more about developing and sharing your leadership point of view, check out the free on-demand webinar with Ken Blanchard, Developing Your Leadership Point of View. It’s available courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
LeaderChat is a weekly blog about managing in today’s work environment and what leaders can do to create an engaged, motivated, and productive workforce that gets results. The purpose of LeaderChat is to provide a forum for readers to explore, consider, and comment on some of the pressing issues that leaders face, and to look at possible solutions from a workplace culture, performance management, and organizational development point of view. LeaderChat is moderated by David Witt, Program Director at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Based in San Diego, David is the managing editor of the company’s monthly newsletter, Ignite, and he also produces the company’s popular webinar series.