Many managers have no idea what their staff really think of them and many simply don’t care very much.
However, if you are one of the former and not the latter then you may want to start seeking some honest feedback.
The ‘rock star delusion’
To illustrate this point, if you happen to observe a group of work colleagues having lunch together, you can very quickly tell who’s in charge from the body language.
You’ll see that the one who looks ‘more popular’ i.e. everyone slightly turned towards this person, responding to their every word, laughing (sometimes a little falsely) at their quips and generally ensuring this person is kept at the centre of the attention, is often, ‘the boss’.
So good have people become at making their boss feel important, the boss often ends up with ‘rockstar delusion’ i.e. they begin to think they are genuinely as popular and interesting as people are making them feel.
The real truth behind the boss’s popularity
The boss’s popularity is often based on a falsehood that is created and perpetuated by the staff who are, frankly, looking after their jobs and protecting their pay packet/lifestyle.
Staff will not let the boss know or see how much they dislike them or their leadership style because of the fear of losing their job or marginalising themselves from the rest of the staff. So they will feign genuine interest in the boss and the boss begins to believe the hype.
This is nothing new. Everyone learns early how to get on the right side of the bully at school.
Why is this a problem for you as a manager?
While there are obviously amazing bosses who have genuinely healthy relationships with their staff who genuinely follow them because they exhibit great leadership ability, being disrespected or disliked by your team can start to get in the way of business effectiveness.
If you’ve ever read The Service Profit Chain: How Leading Companies Link Profit and Growth to Loyalty, Satisfaction and Valueby James L Heskett, you’ll know that the company’s profit has a direct correlation with the level of employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity.
If these same employees are masking their feelings towards to the boss, there is often no genuine desire to put any effort in to their work or maximise their potential in the company and sadly the manager ends up failing on several fronts; a) they do not understand where they are going wrong and b) their lack of insight perpetuates an unhealthy work environment and c) leads to high staff turnover and ultimately business failure.
Take off the blindfold
If you as a manager are in any doubt if your staff are genuinely going along with your guidance because they are motivated by you or because they fear you/losing their job, then step back and ask for some feedback.
1. Conduct a 360 degree review i.e. ask your team for genuine feedback (ask for some coaching for the best way to conduct this process so you avoid people being too scared to be honest)
2. Ask an independent company to conduct an internal staff audit so that they can manage any awkwardness or potential lack of willingness on behalf of the staff to open up. Companies such as Relationship Audits & Management are experts in this field and will handle the delicate situation professionally and discreetly.
3. Take the time to invest in a coaching course for yourself and learn how to connect with your staff on an individual basis by asking questions and getting to know what makes them tick.
We’ve left the management styles of the 70s and 80s far behind. Don’t be a manager who is blindfolded to the truth that is standing in the way of not only your own career progress but your company’s success.
Do you know any managers who are suffering from ‘rock star delusion’ and would benefit from taking their blindfold off? If so, please leave a comment below.