In our increasingly demanding business climate, one of the Leadership Styles we are seeing more and more of is ‘Pacesetting’ – where busy leaders hope to drive their team’s performance by demonstrating exactly how they want things to be done – and hoping that others will be inspired. We hear seemingly positive phrases such as “I never ask anybody to do something I wouldn’t do myself”, but whilst this can be a great style to use in specific situations, often it can mask an unwillingness to delegate and overuse can bring dire consequences…
As an indication of what can happen here, we have turned to the wonderful Phil Lowe – our resident poet in the Greenbank team – we hope it brings a smile to your day but also gets you thinking!
Cautionary Tales For Managers (with apologies to Hilaire Belloc)
#1: Samantha, who refused to delegate and was ‘disappeared’
Samantha Tamsin Thornton-Briar
Was a corporate high-flier.
Hand-picked from University
Her progress through the hierarchy
Was rather quick, I have to say.
Succession planning paved the way
For her to be divisional head
(“And well deserved” – so HR said).
Now something that is clear to all
(At least to those people who scrawl
Their own notes in the margins of
The self-help books they dearly love)
Is this: there is a direct link,
In those who stand poised on the brink
Of corporate success, between
Their outward sharp, professional sheen
And something they all try to hide:
An insecurity inside…
And that was poor Samantha’s bluff;
She feared she wasn’t good enough.
She feared one day they’d find this out.
“The one way to remove their doubt,”
Thought Sam, “Would be to make them see
That everything’s best done by me!”
So from that day, whatever task
Popped up, Samantha never asked
Her followers to do what she
Could do herself. First two, then three
Hours extra every night they saw
Her silhouetted through her door
With in-trays stacked on every side.
She sent out emails far and wide
In which she let her colleagues know
That anything they cared to throw
At her would be ‘no problem’; and
That if they wanted to expand
Her duties they must feel free.
(She hoped by this that they would see
How competent she was, and so
The fear she felt would surely go).
As is the way with all such things
A little too much hubris brings
About a fall. Samantha’s team
Were, to a man and woman, keen
To pull together like the crew
Of some rainforest tribe’s canoe
(A simile they had been forced
To learn on a teambuilding course).
So much they yearned to do their best
That Sam became profoundly stressed
To think they might do more than she.
The worst thing she could do would be
To coach them to bring on their skills:
The very thought gave her the chills.
So every time they tried to solve
A problem, Sam would not involve
Them, saying merely: “I will see
What I can do; leave it with me!”
After several months had passed
You’d scarce believe the stark contrast:
The team were listless; half had left
And all the others were bereft
Of motivation; they would do
The minimum you asked them to.
And as for Sam, she finally cracked
From all the monkeys on her back
(I trust this concept’s known to you:
It comes from a well-known guru).
Her bosses were all quite upset
In case Sam’s failure caused a threat
To their share price; but happily
That dark result was not to be.
So they agreed they wouldn’t dump her,
But transferred her to Kuala Lumpur.
And so, dear reader, please beware:
And think of Sam, while I declare
The moral of this tale of woe
– or two, in fact – before I go:
It’s not much of a corporate perk
To kill yourself through overwork
And good performers, managed poorly
Will usually leave prematurely.
(c) Phil Lowe 2018. All rights reserved
So…If you don’t fancy Kuala Lumpur as your next career move perhaps we can help you develop your delegation and coaching skills……………..
Many of you will have worked with Phil on one of our Greenbank workshops – and will know him as both a highly experienced facilitator and coach and also a talented actor and writer. Phil works with our clients to help them ‘unstick’ themselves and make breakthroughs using their own resources – which finds expression in three main areas: personal and career development (through one-to-one coaching and small group workshops); creative thinking and innovation (through training and facilitation); and change leadership (through coaching and skills workshops). Phil is also a gifted writer and can produce scripted dramas, video and pod casts which support organisational change initiatives-bringing a light and entertaining touch to vital issues our clients are facing.
He has produced a wonderful short film which has won awards and is very funny!
If you would like to know more about how we can help build your own teams and avoid the dreaded consequences in this poem, then please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be delighted to explore how we can help!