For Senior Managers and Team Leaders

If you are a senior manager or leader of teams, demonstrate and uphold the integrity of your character. Focus on investing your efforts in gaining the agreement and trust of those you manage or support.

This is more important than the approval of your superiors, an appreciative ‘pat on the back’ and earning the reputation as the ‘go to person’ within your organisation. This behavior at most times involves taking credit ‘upward’ for the achievements of your teams when things go well and blaming the deficiencies and capabilities of your team/s ‘downward’ when things do not.

Patronage and reputation seeking behavior have a short shelf life as those above you will move on and you will need to seek out and cultivate new ‘patrons’.

Behaviors that characterise reputation or patronage seeking include:

  • Inconsistent/Insincere Messaging: You announce to your teams you intend to build ‘team spirit’ through regular one-on-one or team meetings but find excuses to postpone or avoid these citing ‘urgent or important’ management priorities at higher levels where your participation is critical and important for the organisation.

  • Inconsistent Standards: Playing favorites and engaging in divisive behavior which creates conflict and unnecessary tension within your team/s. Your ‘pick of favorites’ are often the worst performers since your insecurity is at odds with strong united teams that are functional and perform well.

  • Misplaced Benevolence: You cannot deal with a team member who constantly under performs, cheats, humiliates co-workers and lacks the competence for the job. There is open wonderment why the person is in the job at all. You lack the ‘managerial courage’ for fear of creating waves that might highlight your own incompetence among those above you.

  • False Feedback: You do not discuss deficient performance issues of those whom you supervise because it may detract from your ‘popularity’ and create and lead to confrontational conversations which you are not comfortable with. “Fantastic job, keep it up” is your standard response rather than writing “has hit rock bottom and still digging’ in his or her performance appraisal.

  • Failure to build trust during organisational change: During organisational transitions your priority is to jostle yourself into a position which has minimal visibility and therefore is not in danger of redundancy. You create work validated on patronage and relationships with those in charge.

The most common messages you give your team/s not backed up by facts or evident by things that are obvious and going on in the workplace are :

  • “I have no hidden agenda”,

  • “There won’t be any more layoffs”,

  • “The management has it fixed’,

  • “We will be stronger as a result”,

  • “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do”; or ,

  • “I have total faith in the Senior Management Team”.

Rely on the integrity of your character in crediting the achievements of those below you and taking responsibility for instances when things go wrong or not go according to plans. If you function as a ‘buffer’ between the organisation and the team/s you manage in providing them with a safe, confident space to do their work, you will earn respect and inspire. You will take on and manage distractions which get your teams bogged down in unnecessary administration and ‘organisational procedures’. The worst situation for an employee is being unsure if his or her manager 'has their back'.

Otherwise, when push comes to shove, your team/s will gladly and gleefully throw you under the bus and celebrate with a pint after work.

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