Michael is a superb leader of his 240 person organization. He communicates mission with clarity and vision and purpose. He provides guidance and light during the darkest changes. When uncertainty arises, he implements a calm, clear, and focused plan for his team to follow. He knows where his company is going and how to get them there. He is absolutely admired by everyone who knows him. Michael is a pillar; a guidepost; a true servant. His every action would be textbook perfect except for one thing: Michael’s company is dying. He is losing his best and brightest performers and they are taking the clients with them.
One of my VPs asked me why I gave more of my personal time and attention to a baggage handler than I did to him. I told him, “That’s easy – he’s more important than you are!” ~ Herb Kelleher (Co-Founder and Former Chairman and CEO – Southwest Airlines)
In organizations the size of his, Michael is making a classic mistake: He is forgetting that the real leaders in his organization are his managers. He forgot that for all his vision and enthusiasm – he is NOT the most important leader on the team. People’s happiness at work lives and dies at the hands of the people they work for directly. It is the front line manager that matters most, and a real leader’s #1 job is to know exactly how well those managers are admired and respected. Listening to those they manage – the front line – is the only way to find out. Because a bad manager is a killer of great leader. To blindly trust them without verification can undo everything you have worked to create.
In a his blog post at Corridor Conversations, Singapore businessman Jamshed Wadia pins down seven things to look for in managers (and ourselves) when evaluating team management performance. Read more “Leader Killers – Who to Fire, and Why”