Lazy leadership starts and ends with a short-term mindset. The thinking goes we start with quick fixes, and band-aid cure-alls. Then evolving to if a problem exists, a process must be the cause. We must jump on it, revise it or create one to help contain the spread and hold multiple meetings with key stakeholders to discover the root cause. Once identified, the existing or new process will become effective and the issue will dissolve itself over a short period of time and it will never happen again. Where does such a solution dry up? When does it not apply?
When people are involved.
People’s problems and company morale are heavily influenced by the way workers treat one another. If the culture suffers from negativity, low motivation, and production, the reason always points to leadership. Lazy leadership is bad leadership and when issues are addressed with short-term solutions and not permanent changes, the culture becomes susceptible to negative direction. The root cause could very well be lazy leadership. Here are five signs indicating management and leadership are negatively impacting the culture.
1. Lazy Leadership is Being Absent When Needed
Active listening is a vital part of leadership. When an employee has an issue, they need to be heard entirely and the information properly dissected. When a decision is made prior to the explanation or in the middle of it, relationships will suffer as a result. If a leader is away, shows face a few times a week, or communicated solely through email, they miss a large understanding of what happens on the ground floor.
As leaders remain distant their relevance of understanding and lack of presence places their relationship with their employees at risk. The more time they spend away and not on-site will slowly disconnect the existing fragile relationship. Resentment will begin to build and will become difficult to remove leaving the chance to be an effective (and reliable) leader at risk. This all depends on the industry the organization operates in, but for most the physical presence of the one calling shots and sitting on the top of the chain makes all the difference. With the current challenge, we face with the global pandemic, leaders and certain divisions are often given the opportunity to work remotely while a bulk of the team is required to remain on-site. This creates a building of resentment that will fester quickly – no matter the validity of the circumstances.
2. Lazy Leadership is Delegating Work, But Not Accepting More Themselves
“Do this, then do that. I don’t have time to take on anything else.” Well, does the employee have the time? What if a leader delegated this, but took on that? The difference would be a critical component to gaining the respect of those who follow them. Is there truly too much the leader is handling to take on any more? What makes their work more important than the work of their followers? We all consume ourselves with busy work and often answer yes if asked if we were busy today at work. How about tomorrow? Of course, we will be, but when more tasks present themselves, a leader must pile it on their plate as much as those on their team. The entire team has to take on more to accomplish common goals. This is different from delegating in order to move things in a productive manner, which defines many great leaders. This stems from the lack of awareness that the team can handle whatever leaders deem too cumbersome for themselves, without stopping to consider if it is possible. This alleviates the burden.
Laissez-Faire leadership is based on the trust that employees earn. Leaders who utilize the style tend not to micromanage or provide too much instruction and/or guidance. They relish in the abilities of their employees, allow them to proceed with their work, and do not stack the to-do lists a mile high before asking themselves “ is this something I can take on first”.
3. Lazy Leadership is Blaming Everyone Else
Accountability, when things go wrong, is a major sign leadership is lazy. It’s one of the easiest things to do. When production is down, numbers are decreasing, profits struggling, employees not committing themselves – it’s always the fault of the leader. Every problem is theirs. If they start to name others or attempt to identify certain conditions and circumstances, they are blaming something or someone other than themselves. An active and good leader will always raise their hand and accept full responsibility for any lapses and shortcomings the team faces.
4. Making Claims But Never Following Up
This is something actively marking the character of any human being relating to business or life in general. When a statement of intent is made, follow through and do everything possible to get it done. Anything short of it is lazy leadership adding residual damage to the character and integrity they possess. If words become hollow so will relationships and expectations. If a claim of intent is made, do it. It’s a black and white process and as disappointment builds so will irreversible damage to the reliability of the leader.
5. Focusing on Process and Not Relationships
Revising or placing new processes will not solve every issue with employees within the organization. Processes are for production quotas, safety standards, and contractual obligations. They are not intended to fix personnel and morals. Top-down management tends to lean on the process to fix every issue, but the results of this approach prove to be more hands-off and ineffective. Great leaders fix human relational issues in the workplace, not methodical processes robotic in nature. Bottom-up management provides employees more leverage to certain decision-making power and cultivates interpersonal and consistent relationships.
Lazy leadership starts and ends with check-listed individuals placed in higher positions. If we focus on work history and education from a resume, checking the box as we go along, the selection for a manager is simple. It takes rolling the dice and hiring someone based on much more to find a true leader. A true risk for a new hire. A good manager could easily be a lazy leader. Very few commonalities exist regarding managing and leading. A true leader looks out for their team and places focus and growing interest in their employees, not the organization.
Ronnie Lee Roberts II is a brand and marketing super fan and owner & operator of Roberts Consulting Firm. He writes about marketing, leadership, and business.