I Said Invisible, Not Non-Existent

Last week I talked about how leaders, managers and coaches can be so subtle that they’re almost invisible to the people they’re leading, managing and coaching (The Invisible Coach). That’s not an excuse to do nothing! Not an excuse to abdicate, rather than delegate. Not an excuse to simply wish or hope that your people do a good job and produce the results you’re after. Not an excuse to be non-existent.

In my last post I asked whether you’re a controlling type of leader/manager, or a subtle one. Based on what I’ve seen, there are many managers who think they’re the subtle type, when really they’re the ineffective type! They’re non-existent.

If you answered my question last week by saying you’re the subtle type, my next question is just how effective you are? You may think of yourself as the subtle type, when really you’re just fooling yourself. Perhaps I’m a bit harsh, but sometimes one has to look at the brutal facts.

Some differences between an ineffective leader/manager (non-existent) and a subtle, almost invisible one are:

  • People that work for ineffective leaders/manager don’t know what’s expected of them. The leader/manager thinks he or she is giving them room to discover things on their own, when really the person is struggling with direction, whether they’re doing things right or not, or knowing what to do next. And the leader/manager is afraid to ask.
  • People that work for ineffective leaders/managers feel isolated, or unsupported. They often feel they’re working in a void. There is little connection between them. People working for subtle/invisible leaders/managers know they can always go to that person for help or support.
  • People that work for ineffective leaders/managers feel that projects or tasks are simply dumped on them because the leader/manager is not willing to do them.
  • People that work for ineffective leaders/managers often feel criticized and judged by the words of the leader/manager, rather than having received effective and productive feedback.
  • People that work for ineffective leaders/managers rarely see how their work impacts the bigger picture. They’re own goals and visions are not in alignment with the organization’s that they work for.
  • People that work for ineffective leaders/managers are often afraid to do something for fear of being blamed for anything that goes wrong. They’re constantly checking over their shoulder to see what they will be blamed for, or have to deal with next.

And that’s just the start. The obvious question is how do you know whether any of these are symptoms of your people. Awareness is a valuable tool. Ask yourself if any of these symptoms fit your employees. Or, you could ask them. In fact, sitting down and asking your employees if they have any of these symptoms will go a long way towards building or enhancing a productive working relationship. It will go a long way toward you being an invisible but effective leader/manager.

Of course, it’s easy to simply assume that you’re the subtle, invisible and effective type. It’s easy to assume you’re doing a great job and any lack of results is the fault of others. It’s easy to assume that…

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