As I watched my NY Jets beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday there were a couple of times, as there are in every football game, where the quarterbacks needed to call a timeout to go to the sidelines and discuss strategy with his boss, the coach.
It got me thinking about what would happen if the coach was unavailable when his quarterback came to the sidelines for a discussion because the coach was too busy working on the strategy for later on in the game?
How would the quarterback feel? How effective would his decisions be and how confident would he be in taking necessary action?
Although you may say this is a ridiculous and exaggerated example of a subordinate asking for time from their superior and getting rebuffed, this scenario occurs quite frequently in many organizations.
Many organizational leaders today are pulled in so many directions they are unavailable for their people when they need them most.
I’ve had numerous conversations in recent years in interviews with my client work where middle-level managers feel unsupported by their superiors as they struggle to get time to discuss issues for which decisions need to be made.
Leaders need to show as much respect for the time of their direct reports as they would like to have for themselves.
Investing time in their people will give leaders at least these three benefits:
- subordinates will develop strategic and decision-making skills quicker;
- projects will move forward more efficiently and cost-effectively;
- trust and respect will permeate the organization as leaders will be “walking their talk” regarding the value they see in their team members and leadership will be developed throughout the organization as high quality leadership is being modeled;
So, the next time one of your direct reports or other subordinates asks for time you don’t have in that moment, follow these steps:
- show empathy by explaining you understand they need your time,
- ask them for specificity about how much time they think they’ll need
- pull out your calendar and schedule appropriate time
- ask them to send a brief e-mail summarizing what they want to speak with you about
By following the above your team members will feel valued and supported and will allow you to get the best from them, giving you a great return on your investment of time.
If you’d really like to learn power leadership strategies that include practical and real leadership communication techniques, how to deal with conflict in the workplace, creating an emotionally intelligent organization, and the keys to creating a motivating environment, check out “The Leadership Series.”
’til next time, make it a great week and feel free to leave a comment!