Those tagged as “natural born leaders” or what we call Commanders in our work with the CORE Profile assessment, usually have a need for control of their own actions and behaviors, but how do you take control when confined by rigid corporate guidelines? Here are three ways to get your control back and in some ways “buck the system”, but still keep your job!
Fraternize with Employees
Yep, the company has a no fraternization rule, which usually means you can’t be friends with the very folks you hang out with more than your family. Well, forget that. Befriend them. Socialize with employees and don’t be surprised if they open up and tell you the real deal that you can then really address. Of course, watch your boundaries and teach them how to not cross the line, but be real. The distance you keep will make them fake their feedback for fear of the repercussions, but if they get to know you, they’ll trust and you can then start addressing, motivating, and working with them in ways that matter. Employees are people, too.
Fill in the Blanks
Some corporate initiatives require that you tow the company line and keep the pertinent details under wraps until HR says it’s okay to share. Just as when we were kids and were told to fill in ALL the blanks of a test but didn’t’ know the answer and we made one up, hoping it was right, adults who are given information that has obvious “blanks” in it, will make up answers that they hope are right. The difference is they will then tell others their answers and wait until they’ve heard them repeated back to them in the grapevine to confirm their truth. This is how gossip is created and spreads. Find a way to fill in the blanks, stopping gossip, and share information in a way that doesn’t create the damaging results HR is protecting against. This takes finesse and above all employee trust in the leader, but it can be done.
Feel Your Way Up the Ladder
In our pursuit of the next step up the corporate ladder, the volume of the message “check your emotions at the door” grows louder at each rung. If we had no emotions, we couldn’t experience passion for what we do. If we feel nothing, it’s much harder to empathize with customers or put ourselves in anyone else’s shoes. The cliché’s abound and the contradictions are louder. Try instead to keep those emotions and let employees have them, too. Being a leader who feels things isn’t a crime. Being a leader who thinks feelings have no place in the workplace, may find themselves feeling alone with no real followers behind them. People feel.
Please note, the effort with which you buck the system will depend on the culture of your organization and the development of the team you lead. There are those with whom you can be friends and those with whom this line is best not crossed. Use your judgment and be a strong leader of you and your decisions, but also know that these three tactics, used with good judgment, may just develop a team that will willingly follow you through times when other leaders are watching employees bail out and leave because of the type of leader they perceive and believe is in charge. Which type of leader will you be? One who has their back or one who watches their back as they walk out the door?