Our organizations are broken – and it’s breaking our people.
Riddled with bureaucracy, unnecessary rules and dumb processes, the need for control, a lack of trust, pointless work deadlines, poor communication, micro-management and job insecurity (1)
All down to leadership:
‘The pandemic has made people wonder whether companies need a different kind of leadership to manage the situation, a question we might not be asking if there wasn’t a leadership crisis to begin with.’ (2)
One thing’s for certain: we’ll be the ones to sort the mess out - we all need to play our part. (3)
‘Being a good leader is about choosing to be responsible and professional. It’s about taking decisions and following through. It’s about giving tough but necessary feedback and facing awkward situations. It’s unglamorous and uncomfortable. Which is why leaders take the easy routes - people pleasing or taking out their own personal insecurities on their team rather than addressing them head on.’ (4)
In 2020, Gallup asked what people expected from leaders at work. Over 10,000 interviews took place. Based on the results from the research, we developed the ‘EGM Leadership Charter.’ It helps locate what’s right. (5)
We hope you find the charter interesting and that it supports keeping us all on track:
‘Your work becomes meaningful in precise proportion to the responsibility you shoulder. This is because you are now genuinely involved in making things better. You are encouraging those around you by example and word.’ (6)
Read the charter, amend slightly to fit your company (not too much), copy to other leaders ad your team. Discuss, implement, hold each other accountable.
Our Leadership Charter
We the undersigned hereby agree we are human focused, inspirational leaders. We like to be led by people who have similar views on leadership.
We tell the truth
We lead with empathy – and know each person is different
We see common sense as a virtue
We never shirk our responsibilities – we’re not soft - but fair.
1. We tell the truth
We treat you like an adult. We know you have kids, mortgages and problems outside of work. You’re more than capable of making major decisions in your life and hearing how things really are.
We’re authentic – we’re not impressed by spin or those who are economical with the truth. If we don’t know the answer we won’t fob you off with what you want to hear.
We don’t shy away from difficult conversations. If you’re not getting a pay rise we’ll tell you – we won’t say ‘we’ll review in 3-months.’
We’re transparent - we provide context, facts and explain how decisions are made – we won’t shrug our shoulders and say ‘well, that’s the way it is’ as we walk away.
We share the information you need to do your job – we won’t keep things back so we can step in later and look important.
2. We lead with empathy – and know each person is different
We know that leadership isn’t about being in charge – it’s about looking after those in our charge.
(This isn’t about being ‘nice.’ Looking after those in our charge also means upholding standards and not accepting poor work).
We keep you safe. This is more than preventing accidents. It includes safety from being stabbed in the back and the pointless political games people play.
We give confidence in our company’s future and the part you’ll play. This is about giving you a reason to want to come back to work tomorrow. (It’s about purpose, vision, the bigger picture and the ‘why’ of the organization).
We’re there when needed. If things are wrong, we need to know. It’s better to work things out together.
We value diversity - this enhances performance and the experience we have at work. We don’t just ‘talk a good game’ on this subject – actions speak louder than words.
We treat you as a unique individual. This involves: respect, civility, rapport - trying to stand in your shoes to see things from your perspective.
We won’t ‘knock the uniqueness out of you’ - by developing ‘a uniform company culture,’ giving you aligned objectives or competency frameworks – or the kind of stuff that forces you to do your job, or your development, in the same way as your colleagues.
We develop your strengths – not your weaknesses. In this way you’ll work on the things you enjoy, adding more value to the team.
We don’t tolerate micro management or favouritism. (For the avoidance of doubt micro-management is obsessing over arbitrary details, needing to know where you are, telling you exactly how a task has to be done and constantly asking for updates).
We never undermine you – by contradicting you in meetings or talking over you.
3. We see common sense as a virtue
We have no time for petty rules – they’re demotivating and add more cost to the business than the benefit they bring.
We know you’ll act in the best interests of the company – we won’t launch an inquiry if you overspend your hotel allowance by A$5.
We won’t arrange pointless meetings - for the sake of filling our calendars to look busy.
We will use common sense when assessing your workload and try to help. When we ask you to do something we will agree reasonable deadlines. We will avoid terms such as ASAP, Urgent or Very Urgent.
We won’t go anywhere near annual performance appraisals.
4. We never shirk our responsibilities – we’re not soft - but fair.
We lead by example and would never ask you to do something we wouldn’t do ourselves if we could. We don’t mind making the coffee.
We never shirk responsibility by implying, ‘sorry but it’s not my decision,’ or ‘sorry I tried my best but she simply wasn’t having it.’ Tough decisions are made openly, with honesty and implemented with a ‘people first’ approach.
Even when things seem ‘out of control’ we react with empathy and calm, There may be tensions and dilemmas but we trust your conscientiousness and abilities to get things back on track.
When things are going well we’ll give you and the team the credit. When things aren’t going well we’ll ‘stand up and be counted – protecting you and the team from external criticism.
When we need to talk we will. We’ll listen and understand all points of view. We won’t pre-judge outcomes and only decide when we know all the facts. We will do our best to find a way forward.
When all is said and done, we know that leadership is summed up in a simple story:
‘A leader is given a thick book of business wisdom. When opened, the hundreds of pages are blank – except for the first. It contains four words: ‘Do the right thing.’
Get out of your own way, EGM blog
Why leadership has to change after Covid -19, Forbes Magazine, 11th February 2021
Get out of your own way, EGM blog
How to work without losing your mind, Cate Sevilla, January 2021
Why leaders need to build trust with employees, Gallup, 24th June 2020
Beyond Order: 12 more rules for life, Jordan Peterson.
The quote: ‘leadership isn’t about being in charge – it’s about looking after those in our charge,’ is from Simon Sinek – see: YouTube, Understanding Empathy
The story about ‘doing the right thing’ is from Don’t be a fake. Why the pandemic has found out low integrity leaders, Chartered Institute of Management, 24 February 2021