Leaders in businesses and organisations often say they want their people to step up and take more initiative.
Some, in the next breath, will say they want certain things done a certain way, and they’ll end up directing the action they want. Other times, they’ll push back when the to-be-empowered folk come forward with some new and different idea that doesn’t quite fit with their view of things.
In other words, they want their people to step up—except, that is, when they don’t.
Quite a difficult thing to get right: stepping up some of the time, and only then in someone else’s preferred manner.
Could you be in this predicament?
The right review arrangements might be what you’re missing.
Mike Churchill says
Could one reason be that assumptions are made by the leader that are not being specifically expressed? These seem obvious to the leader, or maybe were only vague ideas in his/her mind at the time. Maybe the ramifications of a given change are clearly unacceptable to leader but not to subordinates. It’s not that “stepping up” isn’t wanted it’s that the right stepping up is hard to achieve without effort and much more communication and direction on behalf of leaders, who more often than not conclude by taking responsibility back. Perhaps the key question is what are the keys to successful “stepping up”?
Dr David Fraser says
Thanks very much for your comment, Mike. I’d say you’re right about unexpressed assumptions. Avoiding taking responsibility back is what we want to achieve, really, because it’s so discouraging. But that takes effort, as you say. Your follow up question is good… I suppose, what are the keys to a successful stepping up process? (i.e. what are the responsibilities on both sides?) I’ve found it helpful to think in terms of what are the tramlines I need the activity to stay within so that I know how to recover the situation if it departs too far from what I’m comfortable with (without requiring it to be done my way). That gives me a clear sense of what circumstances might prompt me to intervene, typically with a question.