Over at Random Thoughts from a CTO, Skip notes that leaders and managers ought to have a conscious philosophy of leadership and/or management. He’s right, of course, and he goes on to recount an answer he once gave when asked about his own philosophy.
My management philosophy doesn’t have as many words, but I think we’re pointing to the same place. I say that, as managers and leaders (yeah, I know they can be different things, but it’s my philosophy, so roll with it), we’ve accepted a responsibility to be role models. If you don’t want to be a role model, don’t accept management jobs.
Skip’s narrative kinda talks around the issue until the next to last paragraph. This is where we line up. He says we should "…remove roadblocks." Now we’re talkin’! Learn what folks need and give it to them. Learn what’s blocking their success and remove it. And talk about it the whole time. Tell ’em what you’re gonna do, tell ’em when you’re doing it and tell ’em when you’re done. Demonstrate how you’d like them to treat one another by treating them the same way. You help remove enough roadblocks, and pretty soon folks will be removing roadblocks for each other. I’m serious, this really happens. Doesn’t that just give you full-on goosebumps? Imagine your life as a manager, managing people who take care of each other’s problems. Doesn’t mean you’ll no longer be called upon for help, but this’ll free up a nice chunk of time.
If you aren’t already a paranoid manager, this might help: people are watching you. They watch how you respond to emails. They watch how you negotiate sticky customer service problems. They watch you and learn your hotbuttons. They know when you close the door to your office and they know when you open it up again. You are totally on display. You are the role model.
So if you don’t like how folks in your office are treating one another, take a closer look at how you’re treating them. If you think your folks suck at customer service, start by taking an honest assessment of how you treat your customers. Model the behavior you’re looking for and you’ll start to see it.