Leadership needs to be more of a partnership. And the responsibility for leadership has to rest with more than just the leader says Susan Fowler, co-creator of The Ken Blanchard Companies newly redesigned Self Leadership program.
“Some people in organizations don’t realize that the quality of their work experience depends on their being a good follower,” says Fowler. “They don’t know how to manage up—to help their leaders give them what they need to get their work done.
“As a result, leaders are left to guess what their people need, and they often don’t guess correctly. Direct reports must accept responsibility for knowing and communicating to their manager what they need to succeed.”
In a recent video interview, Fowler explains that organizations need to develop more self leaders—people who take responsibility for working together with their managers to set clear goals, diagnose development level, and get the day-to-day coaching they need to succeed.
“Our SLII® program helps leaders understand that they need to be flexible and match their leadership style to the development needs of their direct reports. In our Self Leadership program, we teach individual contributors the mindset and skillset to communicate what they need. When direct reports can meet their leader halfway, the potential for achieving goals and peak performance improve exponentially.”
Fowler admits that seeing leadership as a partnership is going to require a mind shift in organizations—especially organizations that still see the primary responsibility for the performance management equation as being the manager’s sole responsibility.
“The focus on the manager as the seat of power is a relic of the old command-and-control approach to leadership,” Fowler explains. “When top leaders believe the only people who need training are those in a position of authority, it limits opportunities for creativity, innovation, and optimally motivated employees. Why not train both sides of the equation? Continue to invest in your managers, but leverage your investment by training the other side of the partnership—the direct reports. Don’t ignore half the equation. Make effective leadership everyone’s job.”
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