Friday, December 5, 2014

The buck stops at the leader

As someone who has led teams and been on teams led by a variety of leaders, I believe that the leader is accountable for anything you see on a team.

Any thing you see on any team, there are only two ways to interpret it. Either the leader wants it that way or the leader is blissfully unaware of what is happening in the team. If there are issues in the team (of any nature), and the leader has not acted to resolve it - it only means that the leader has not done enough to change it or is happy to let the status quo continue. There is no third way at all.

For a short span of time it is possible that the leader may not be aware of certain issues - but the moment she is made aware of it, the leader has to act - decisively. If the leader does not - there are only two possibilities - the leader chooses not to or the leader is not effective.

PV Narasimha Rao, the former Indian Prime Minister once said - Not doing anything is a conscious choice and he was a master tactician - but not everybody is a PVNR and using that as a reason to stay quiet is hardly leadership.

If the team has low credibility, it is because of the leader. (The leader can establish credibility starting with herself).

If the team is not scaling up, it is because of the leader. (The leader has to make right choices in people and hiring). Perhaps the leader wants it that way. (And why would that be, ask yourself)

If the team is not skilled enough, it is because of the leader. (Skill building is no accident). A leader actively builds skills of the team - and never feels insecure about it. Budget or no budget, skill building is an active choice.

If the team has culture issues, it is because of the leader. (Culture follows the path followed by the leader). Show me an insecure team and I will show you an insecure leader. Show me a team that is fraught with internal issues and I will show you a vacillating leader. Show me a team that operates in a silos and I will show you a poor leader. Show me a team that refuses to collaborate, share and be open and I will show you a closed leader.

If the team is stuck doing low value added work, either the leader does not want the team to scale up or the leader is setting the wrong example by taking on the wrong kind of work.

If the team is on every table and asked to make the least contribution - most likely, it is led by a leader who is happy with the team marking its presence in meetings without any significant contribution.

If the team is waiting for work, I will show you a leader who sits at his desk waiting for work.

I can go on and on, but you get the drift - everything in the team good or bad can be traced back to the actions (mostly actions not intention) of the leader.

Yes, the buck does stop at the leader...

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