What’s a leader good for, anyway?

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As leaders, we spend hours (maybe even days) every week helping our employees understand their roles. But what about our own role as leader? Not knowing how best to help our company and employees can be frustrating. Worse, if our behavior and the true needs of the company don’t match up, we can inadvertently build feelings of disrespect and distrust in our employees. This is a very common problem among businesses

The Disconnect

One motivated and passionate business leader was feeling increasingly frustrated with his business. He felt his employees neither respected nor trusted him, and even though he felt he was doing his best, nothing seemed to change. He began to hold meetings for his employees to voice their concerns. But rather than listen carefully and make changes, he began to worry that the meetings were taking too long and that his employees would be upset about time spent on “unproductive” pursuits. He pushed the meetings forward at the expense of focusing on his employees’ concerns in depth. Eventually, and unbeknownst to him, the meetings became a running joke among the employees.

Exasperated that the negative climate was not improving and not knowing what to do next, he called a meeting to focus solely on the employees’ concerns about the business. In a drastic and desperate move, he decided to listen to his employees without reacting to what they said.

Being what the company needs

What his employees said really surprised the leader. The employees wanted to be able to talk about their concerns freely and openly and to be met with passionate understanding and genuine concern from their leader. Shaking his head, the leader admitted that he thought his chief role was to make sure meetings were run quickly and “efficiently.” And for him, “efficiently” meant “fast.” He felt he was letting his employees down if the meetings took too long or focused on too few topics. His assumptions about his role and the true needs of the business were miles apart.

With this revelation, he was able to begin changing his behavior as a leader to be more inline with what the business and his employees truly needed. And that made all the difference.

Actions you can take today

  1. Sit down for 10 minutes and think about what the business needs and what you need. How might your personal needs or your assumptions about the business’ needs be holding you and your business back?
  2. Ask the same question of a trusted colleague or employee—someone who cares about you enough to tell you the truth. Be open-minded—and consider what you might do differently.
  3. Using the information you receive from both your own contemplation of your role and the comments of others, solidify your “job description” by writing it down. Give yourself a few weeks to get used to your new responsibilities and then make changes as necessary.
chris hutchinson, CEO

chris hutchinson, CEO

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Chris Hutchinson

As CEO of Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson thrives working with clients and his team to improve organizational clarity, teamwork, and leadership impact.

After years of building Legos® and tree houses around the world, Chris earned his Mechanical Engineering degree and followed that with an MBA. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.

Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. He is the author of Ripple - A Field Manual for Leadership That Works.

Chris and his wife live, garden, and bike in Fort Collins, Colorado, and have four children. He has an unrequited love affair with brownies.