I was facilitating a meeting recently where we were talking about the qualities that are essential for employees. Then we started talking about the essential qualities for managers. At first glance, you might think the conversations would be identical, but they weren’t. Which raises the question, should they be?
It reminded me of my interview with Elad Levinson. One of my takeaways from that conversation was that good managers and leaders develop good employees. It’s similar to servant leadership. The role of the servant leader is to develop the people around them.
When good employees are coached, mentored, and developed, they are positioned to move into roles of greater responsibility. And we’d like to think that, along the line, they are taught to do the same for the next person. An ongoing leadership “pay it forward” if you will.
But then, after reading Jeffrey Pfeffer’s piece on “Why the Leadership Industry has Failed”, it made me think about the opposite end of the spectrum. If we don’t develop managers and leaders, then who is developing employees? And when employees are promoted, what (if anything) are they passing along to their team?
Maybe lack of leadership is a contributing reason to why we’re experiencing the skills gap. Maybe there aren’t enough good managers and leaders to create the talent we’re looking for. To really push for skill development in their employees. At the point organizations stopped developing leaders and managers, they closed the employee talent pipeline. Thus, lack of leadership creates a skills gap.
As business professionals, we talk about the need to recruit and retain employees. We toss around terms like candidate experience and employee engagement. I’m not being judgmental. I do it too. The question is, at what point will we realize that good leadership and management is a critical factor in the success of employees? And then, when will we actually do something about it?
Last month at Tucana’s HR Change & Transformation conference, attendees talked about the role that middle managers play in organizational success and the need to focus on training and skills development. I don’t know that we came up with all the answers, but it was clear that organizations looking to hire the best talent are making investments in management. They understand it would be a costly mistake to spend organizational resources hiring and onboarding talent only to turn them over to anything less than a great manager.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby0
Stan Spaght says
What an honest assessment of the unspoken truth. But, being a good leader and/or manager means different things to many people. A good manager might be perceived as one who’s like, rather than one to invest time to develop his/her staff. On the other hand, are organizations guilty of hiring or promoting managers who are a “good fit” which may have little to do with ability to perform tasks or develop staff. I agreed with the “pay it forward” concept, however, not all managers view their roles as open-minded as you have addressed.
Jason Cavness says
This reminds me of a saying we had in the Army. “There are no bad trainees/soldiers only bad leaders/trainers who are incapable of properly training trainees/soldiers
I really enjoyed this piece. I believe it is crucial to also implement leadership skills in new employees so they can prepare to become a leader in their future career. I recently used the True Colors test to determine my leadership style (http://www.nfty.org/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=12954&destination=ShowItem). Having an office take this test would also benefit because then they would be able to figure out what kind of leader they are to prepare them for their future!