My Staff

Weak leadership is betrayed by the use of possessive pronouns.

When I hear a vice president or president talk about “my staff,” or “my cabinet,” experience suggests that I’m dealing with someone who cares more about position and less about performance.

Of course, the person using the “my staff” language believes such language portrays a picture of able leadership.  In their mind, the “my staff” language signifies control, command, and authority.  And it does – that is the problem.

Control, command, and authority are the managerial styles of the factory floor.  Such approaches to leadership are unproductive in a knowledge and relationship-based enterprise like ours.

“My staff” leaders create dependent, lethargic cultures, instead of energized inter-dependent teams.  “My staff” leaders produce fiefdoms, instead of outcomes.  “My staff” leaders focus on appearance more than substance.

If you have ever been a member of “someone’s staff,” you know that the environment is often draining and demoralizing.  It cripples creativity and breaks the entrepreneurial spirit.  It is about pleasing the boss and not about fulfilling the mission.

The good leaders, the effective leaders, the inspiring leaders know that it’s not about them.  It’s about the team, the mission, the vision, and serving others.  The good leaders don’t think in terms of “my staff,” because they don’t think of themselves as royalty.

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