Shadow of a Leader

When facilitating a group of nearly two hundred corporate managers I asked the question: “Who has ever worked for a bad boss?” As you can imagine almost all hands shot straight up, and the room was alight with murmurings of just had bad these bosses had been.  I then asked my next question, “Who here would consider themselves a bad boss?” Stone cold silence, not a hand was raised. 10141810486_f1228801ba_o

So apparently there are all these bad bosses out there but yet I can’t find any of them.

The answer is that we all can and probably have been that bad boss at some stage in our working lives.

We spend so much time behavior of others, while as business owners or managers the first thing we should look at with regards to staff retention is the way we are perceived by our staff.  The concept of Shadow of the Leader highlights that whenever someone is watching us we are casting a shadow; we don’t have a choice, just like when the sun is shining.  You might be having a bad day, but those around you will judge on your behavior.

Apart from staff retention the other key issue related to your behavior as a leader is others following your example.  The term Lead by Example refers to the fact that people are more likely to follow your actions than your words.  This is easy to prove.  Next time you are holding a team meeting, try this short exercise:  Ask everyone in the room to take their forefinger and point to their nose. While you are asking them to do this take your finger and place it on your chin.  I guarantee more people will point to their chin even though you told them to point to their nose.  A good example of this in a business is how the owner talks about customers in front of their staff.  If they are always complaining about customers and how unreasonable they are, the staff will follow suit in the way they deal with customers, whatever the owner tells them to do.

What kind of shadow do you think you cast over your workplace? How can you find out?  Well you can ask your team, but they are unlikely to be 100% honest. Here are some other options:

360 degree feedback – Everyone writes one positive and one constructive piece of feedback confidentially and each person then receives this feedback.

3rd party – Get someone not related to the business in to hold a staff satisfaction forum.  They must start the meeting by assuring the members of staff that everything they say is 100% confidential.  This can be done on a one to one basis as well to stop staff gossiping about what each other said.

Staff Satisfaction Survey – The bigger the business the more effective this is. It doesn’t always work well in a small business as people don’t feel that it is confidential.

Exit Interviews – You should already conducing these.  The staff member is more likely to be honest with you at this point in their career with you!