Matthew Brandt, Accountability Cop, Leadership, Keynote Speaker, Author, Lead, Resiliency,

Leaders Often Set The Bar Too LowAccountability, Leadership, Lead, Keynote, Training, Set the bar too low, Leaders set bar too,

Are you and your managers setting the bar too low for your employees! The real answer may surprise you, more likely than not, it is yes! I mean after all you’re a high-powered company with all the makings of having a motivated workforce. You have high company earnings and a stock price that is doing pretty-well. Work life seems to be moving in the appropriate direction, right?

The quick answer is that it might be all moving in the positive direction, but the truth is, many leaders are failing to fully leverage their employees.  Often they don’t meet their full ability and potential. Sound like a report card from 7th grade? “He’s not living up to his full potential.”  Here are three areas that most leaders need work on if you want stop encouraging underperformance:

1. Being Nice vs. Being Accountable

I’m the Accountability Cop, of course this is going to be high on my list of behaviors that need some improvement. The truth is this, leaders most often fall into two categories as their highest rated leadership traits. Results driven and or relationship-building type behaviors. Both are very important, and both are qualities that every leader should have.
These types of leaders are normally genuinely nice people and often lead with a sense of strength. The other side of the coin is this type of leader doesn’t do so well in areas such as driving results as a leadership trait. They also often don’t do well in holding employees accountable for results.  Things like measuring progress and surrounding themselves with a team of high performers that exceed expectations every day.

In order to allow more room in their leadership style, they often need to pull back on the “nice” reins a bit. It then allows more room for the naughtier “accountability” trait that will set the stage for long-term improvement over short-term satisfaction. The short-term or “nice” approach is only for appearances. All is working well, there are no problems in the organization and allow everyone to sort of drift along, even if in a positive direction. The long-term approach is to be on point and straight forward about expectations and coach or mentor your team to get there so they grow together.

2. Allow Them To Do The Work

After almost 30-years in law enforcement, having observed a great many managers and senior leaders. I’ve noticed, that leaders who often inspire underperformance hold onto to work they should be passing along. I’ve taught and worked with organizations that often will discover their newly promoted supervisors, the rising stars of the organization never learned to delegate work. They often think they are protecting their team, their former peer group, from being overwhelmed. They hold on to work that they believe may be too much for their team to deal with or work through.

That is almost always the absolute incorrect thing to do. In doing this, they actually make it more difficult on their team by creating a sort of bottleneck in the process. Additionally, this action of holding back work, often reverses creativity in your otherwise progressive team. This then in turn derails your team’s overall development and cohesiveness as a unit.

I’ve rarely heard anyone say that their boss is giving them too much work. They may say they “stay busy” or “there’s never a dull moment” but on the inside they thrive on productive work. It’s more often heard that employees say things like their boss holds on to way too much and won’t let the team take on enough. Remember supervisors, managers and leaders are there to do just that; Supervise, Manage and Lead; trust your team, lead your team, empower your team.

3. Share Information

As I was eluding to above, the best leaders share information regularly. They share more than they often should and try to connect the work of their employees with the bigger goals of the company. Great leaders will focus more on the “why” and “what” of the work than the “how.” As a leader, you are privy to a great deal more information from above. Some is appropriate to keep at your level, while a great deal of it is more productive if passed along to your team. Every bit of this information sharing will shape your perspective as a leader.

I send a weekly “blast” to my team. In this “blast” are the highlights of everything happening in the company. From new policies, budget issues, new products or services, new employees hired, whatever is happening, I share it. I regularly receive comments from employees about how much they enjoy the weekly “blast” of information. This simple push of information allows my team to feel a part of the bigger organization. Employees feel empowered to act and to do, as they should. They understand the context and information they need. In addition, they know to be smart about making decisions without having to constantly ask permission or validation.

Raise the bar, take a look at some of your leadership styles and traits. Are you impeding your own team to be as productive as they really can be? Are you empowering them to take on bigger projects, meet higher goals? Or are you allowing them to do just enough? Employees that feel empowered, are fulfilled with knowledge and transparent information, you may be surprised that they can work at a completely higher level. Measure what you can measure, improve on those measurements, drive results. Raise that bar, raise the level of expectations of your employees.  Want to learn more? Check out the Accountability Cop Linkedin page for more articles on accountability and leadership.