One of the biggest questions you as a leader need to ask, “Are those who report to me headed in the same direction as me?” That’s a question for everyone who reports to you.
No matter where you are now, I recommend you take a motto to heart. In fact, if you are looking for a tattoo worth getting this might be the perfect line.
“Trust but verify”
“Steve, you just have to trust me with these guys. Let me just do the job you assigned to me. I need the authority to do this, or I’m not going to succeed. If you don’t, I’m going to quit and get a job somewhere else.”
Those are the words of one of the leaders with whom I worked the most closely. I was stunned to hear that. On one hand, I wanted to fire him on the spot. I wanted to go for his jugular and asked myself which side would be the best to go after – his right or left one!
But as I mulled it over it was clear that even though he showed a harsh, even disrespectful message, it’d be difficult to replace him – (plus I didn’t relish the idea of spending years in jail for a second degree homicide conviction). I decided to flow with what he had in mind. It took a while to see what was going on, but eventually it was clear he was taking his part of the staff in a direction that what I wanted – one different than mine. I was in a Catch 22 conundrum – darned if I did and darned if I didn’t.
A business owner gave me the motto to keep in mind with 100% of managers we trust and empower.
“Trust but verify”
In short, this guy was saying, “Trust me, but don’t verify, and don’t ask too many questions.” Granted, he had a great love for the church. He also had a great love for me. More than once he echoed the sentiment of others that I can be like a “VW Beetle with a jet.”
When that attitude exists, it needs to be addressed immediately. It’s a common issue that deserves a conversation to clarify things with that employee.
Keep giving assignments. Also, keep clarifying what you want to see in terms of direction. Here’s the lesson I took away from it all – if those to whom you trust give a strong push back as you try to “Verify” then it’s time to find their replacement.
It’s tough to be the one who makes a role change but far more difficult to keep it going in the wrong direction. Their attitude can be subversive – all the more essential that you deal with them.
Are you a manager? Sometimes those you work with are innovators and it’s a bad idea to hinder them in any way.
Don’t chase after those who threaten to quit. Sometimes they are bluffing. Regardless, you are the leader, not them. They might truly quit. They will probably take their leadership style with them to another job. At least they are out of your hair.