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October 2, 2023

What Do You Really Want From Your Leaders?

As much as no one wants to admit it, being in a working relationship is much like being in a romantic one. Sometimes one side sits there waiting for the other to read his or her mind (OK, it's mostly her), someone is always pissed off about dirty dishes piled up in the sink and it's easy to get sick of each other if you spend too much time together.

With that in mind, a manager pointed me to this recent AccountingWEB piece on "Eight Ways to Reignite Your Leadership Mojo" which I will not excessively quote here. The gist of the article – if you don't feel like clicking through – is that leaders get burned out too. Overcoming good old fashioned burnout only works if those leading the pack are willing to admit their own shortcomings instead of constantly blaming their useless teams.

The first step is to admit you have a problem:

Your company has been operating in survival mode for a while now, and that's not good for anyone. But before you can reignite others, you must reignite yourself. That means, much like the alcoholic who must admit she has a problem, you must (metaphorically) say, Hello, my name is ______ and I'm an old-paradigm command-and-control leader. Worse, I've been running on empty for a while now. It's time for me to rediscover my basic leadership beliefs and leverage them into a new beginning.

Alright, so maybe there were too many buzzwords in that confession but you get the idea.

Thoughtful leader that this manager who sent me the piece is, they wondered out loud what other staff want from their leaders (this person already maintains an open door policy within their firm). We're not talking the superficial garbage everyone wants like more money, we're talking actual leadership skills you think your own leaders might be lacking; communication, respect, willingness to admit their own shortcomings, all that good stuff.

As cynical as I am, I'd like to believe most leaders (at least the ones that aren't power sick or just plain stupid) would appreciate the feedback. If you could sit your leaders down for a review, what would you tell them? If you were in their shoes, what steps would you take to improve the general morale at your firm?

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