Today, Corporate America wants everyone at every level to be a leader, to be strategic, to be innovative, to be excellent with people, to be an excellent worker, get results, and much more. To be all these things requires someone who has the will to think independently, be a great decision maker, be striving to improve, be curious, be autonomous and self-driven.
This all sounds great! However, Corporate America still wants to maintain control based on the organizational chart, titles and the boss mentality.
In other words, think for yourself but not too much.
So what happens to the strongest people in your organization with this mentality? You probably end up crushing their spirits and they end up leaving. So, how do you harness the power of the more autonomous, independent, self-driven, and even, I dare say it, the entrepreneurial leader inside your company?
Maybe it’s time for out with the old of treating all people, even star performers, like employees and maybe treat them as partners instead? This seems challenging, a loss of control and messy to do but let’s give it a try.
Begin by understanding and considering a few simple principles when partnering with the exceptionally strong leader:
Some Simple Principles for Good Partnering
To minimize that soul-crushing experience of star performers within your company, executives and bosses should consider several mutual partnership principles:
(1) Agree on a dedication to building long-term partnerships.
(2) Be clear about common goals, measures for results, expectations, communication, accountabilities, and responsibilities. Then, follow through on commitments and re-evaluate regularly.
(3) Listen to and understand differing points of view from all levels, not just opinion leaders. When views differ, always work to de-escalate the conflict and to expand your own thinking in the process. Be open-minded. Be a generative thinker not always an evaluative thinker.
(4) Acknowledge the entrepreneurial spirit of the people involved.
(5) Tamp down the human reaction of being jealous and afraid of losing your job because someone in the ranks is a strong direct report.
(6) Acknowledge the high motivation of people and their capabilities as exceptional thinkers and problem solvers.
(7) Give strong leaders a high degree of freedom in their work.
(8) Acknowledge strong leaders as decision-makers and ask for their opinions.
(9) Give your leaders verbal and appropriately frequent recognition, invest in them and give them the patience to grow, learn, try, fail and win.
The Bottom Line:
Understand your best people and co-develop a comprehensive, coordinated, intentional plan for engagement that will ensure their long-term success and keep them interested in staying and growing in the organization.