In our work supporting executives who strive to continually develop both their leadership skills and improve their corporate culture, we regularly speak with their immediate team members and other colleagues in their companies.
A topic which comes up regularly is that people in a company wish the leaders would address issues more promptly, rather than hoping the issues will go away. They seldom do.
Issues are often problems, be they poor management in the field, maybe even in the home office, poor communication, talking behind people’s backs, overt office politics, a person who is consistently complaining and disrupting the morale of the team’s and company’s people.
The dedicated, valuable people of a company want and expect the senior leaders to address problems, not to let them fester.
Many senior leaders are conflict avoidant, and even sub-consciously just try to sweep things under the carpet.
No, we cannot do that. We have a responsibility, a duty, to fix issues ranging from layers of approval to relationship problems in a timely manner.
If there are too many meetings, meetings which are inefficient, poor communication, poor management practices, unconstructive working relationships, we must step up and address them.
Addressing the issue means taking action, not necessary having to resolve it our self. Actually, often a good approach is to ask the people doing that work how to improve. They’ll know, and bottom up solutions are usually better than top down.
But we must make sure the problem gets fixed.
Many of us have problems with difficult issues. But we have been given the gift of leadership and it is our job to make sure they are attended to and fixed or, at a minimum, acknowledged and improved.
Just state our intention up front and deal with it.
I recently heard a very highly regarded executive say we should “fire fast”. Well, I do believe in second chances, that we first try to coach the person. After all, almost everyone wants to do a good job. Some may need help, and they likely have every bit as much potential as those who just naturally know how to succeed. So, let’s try to help those who need it. But those who do have a bad attitude and are not good teammates, well I support being timely in letting them go (always in a kind manner).
We, as leaders, are servants to our people, and this is what they want from us, strong leadership, respecting our people and our work environment by having the courage to handle problems promptly!