Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thermostat and Thermometer

A leader is the thermostat for the team. He sets the target temperature for vision, collaboration, an ethical and energizing culture and effective communication. However, the leader can't be the thermometer. He or she can't be the one to say that's it working. Only the staff can provide that feedback. Therefore, it's critical you've got people on the team to tell you the truth.

If there's tension between top team members, it's got to be addressed by the leader. Not necessarily in the way that leads to eliminating the "errant" subordinate. That's one of the problems highlighted in a recent Forbes article about the 7 Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives. If there's tension, it's going to affect the rest of the organization. There's got to be respect and trust. A leader has got to take steps to correct the dynamics and relationship before a lack of respect turns into disrespect and distrust. (Understand there's a difference between disrespect and dislike. Dislike does not equate to disrespect.) Once the organization gets a whiff of disrespect among any of the staff, they'll be like kids trying to stay out of the way of divorcing parents when both are around.

You also set the tone for right thinking. An electronics factory in China reportedly had several suicides, supposedly related to working conditions. Instead of addressing the working conditions, leadership installed nets around the roof of the building. That's like instituting auditing and inspection rather than fixing the cause of the mistakes. We've all seen that, perhaps done that, but it doesn't make it right.

The thermostat can't know it's sending the right signals unless it's getting good feedback from the environment and soliciting the right ideas, opinions and solutions.

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