Often times, we experience leaders that are more concerned with showing their perceived mental acumen than they are with receiving input from those they lead. There is an unfortunate misperception that leaders must have the right answers at all times.
God forbid they don’t know it all.
Luckily, that needn’t be the rule. You don’t have to be the front-line supervisor, an administrator, or the Powers That Be to lead.
You can exemplify leadership by expanding your knowledge base and by leading by example.
However, for the sake of argument, I want to speak directly to those that do find themselves in an official leadership capacity.
[Tweet “Leadership is about asking the right questions, not about having the right answers.” – @MichaelHyatt”]
When was the last time you checked the barometer of morale in your command? When did you last attend lineup to do something more than drop your proverbial stone-tablets of orders and then dropped a flash bang to disappear back to the mountain top?
How about popping for a cup of coffee for no other reason than to thank those you lead for the work they are doing?
When you make those kinds of gestures and open the door to ask the right kinds of questions, you foster a connectivity with your people unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Now, it won’t happen immediately, of course, because people (and cops in particular) are suspicious by nature. The sad reality is we immediately want to know what it is the Powers That Be want. But, if you start now to build those bridges, when it comes time to cash those chips in, you are far more likely to be met with positivity and a desire to perform and participate in a solution to a problem than you would have before.
If you have a morale problem, why not select some key folks, perhaps even those stirring the pot, and ask them what their perception of the issue is and what they feel some solutions may be? Invite them to the table without the threat of recompense or discipline and make a concerted effort to involve them in improving morale.
That is not to say I would advise you to ignore any potential policy violations or capitulate to someone whose sole function appears to be bitching and moaning. Much like parenting, there is a time for the soft touch and a time for the iron fist.
I’m not recommending you coddle your charges. I am recommending you involve yourself more in the relationship.
Too often, asking questions is seen as a weakness. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Those that ask questions (the right questions, mind you) should be seen as striving to learn more and better themselves in order to improve their agencies (or businesses if we are talking about the private sector).
For whom would you rather work? A leader (perhaps manager is a better term) that rules from on high or a leader that honestly desires input from you?
We are much more likely to involve ourselves in the improvement of our respective work places if our input is sought after.