Do you remember those games on the back of cereal boxes when you were a kid? While shoveling your favorite sugary cereal in your mouth on a lazy Saturday morning, you could analyze two pictures that looked identical at first glance. But the challenge was to spot the differences. The house on the left had two-paned windows, while the house on the right had single-pane windows. The tree on the right was filled with apples while the tree on the left was empty.
If you look across the leadership in your organization at first glance, everything looks the same. Everyone is doing their job and operating at top capacity. But if you take a closer look you may finally see that one manager is not like the others. There are key differences that can damage your organization if you continue to overlook them. The difference? One manager is not a role model. He or she cuts corners, refuses to operate with integrity, and repeatedly sets a bad example.
Why This Is a Problem
Your leadership sets the tone for your entire company. If you expect your employees to follow a code of ethics, you cannot let supervisors get away with throwing the handbook out the window. The negative behavior of managers and supervisors only frustrates lower-level employees and entices them to follow suit. They can justify their actions because this is the example set for them. “If he can get away with it, then so can I.” Your organization’s leaders need to be held to the same standard as every employee if you want to take your business to the next level. The motivation to work with integrity and employee satisfaction will flounder if there’s an unspoken mentality of “if the rules don’t apply to her, then why should they apply to me?” This is a cancer you have to eliminate immediately.
How to Identify Poor Role Models
Men and women who have to identify counterfeit money, do not study all the variations of counterfeit money. They study valid currency. When you know what the real thing looks like, you can easily spot the fake ones. In the same manner, we encourage you to know exactly what a role model manager looks like. What vision do you have for your company? What kind of employees can take you there? What kind of manager needs to lead those employees?
When you can answer those questions, you have set a standard for your leadership. Make those expectations known and then trust but verify. Trust that the people you have put in place will do the job the right way. But always verify. You may not spot the oddity at first glance. You may have hired a manager that says and does the right things whenever they think you’re looking. But their team knows when something is off. Do a staff inventory and have lower-level employees rate their supervisors to give you a better idea of what’s really going on.
How to Identify Positive Role Models
Here are a few ways to know whether or not your managers, supervisors, and team leaders are positively influencing their team:
- They have a positive attitude
- They have built trust with their team
- They operate with integrity
- They motivate their team rather than criticize them
- They communicate effectively
- They offer support and encouragement
This is a quick overview of the characteristics of a leader who will inspire other employees. Managers who exude these qualities encourage others to follow them toward increased productivity and team unity.
Once you’ve identified poor role models within your leadership structure, it’s time to take action. Jack Welch, the late chairman of GE commented that he had no other option but to fire an executive who did not live by the company’s values, regardless of his output. You are protecting your entire company when you let go of employees who do not uphold the standards of your organization. To make sure everyone is on the same page, it’s crucial to repeatedly reinforce your company’s values and code of ethics. Then, both publicly and privately, recognize and reward positive role models. Let them know how much value they bring to the company, and set the tone for others to follow in their footsteps.
Our Front Line Leadership Programs are designed to equip your organization’s leaders to effectively carry out the qualities of a role model manager. They will learn how to communicate effectively, how to motivate, how to manage conflict, and increase team involvement. To learn more about our interactive in-person and online programs, contact us at Front Line Leadership today.