Monday, February 10, 2014

Drawbridge Leadership

"We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom."
- Stephen Vincent Benet

There is a certain energy that should come from serving in a leadership role. For leaders who have broken through to a high level for the first time it can be downright exhilarating. The organization trusts you to make major decisions that will affect anywhere from a handful to potentially thousands of employees.

With that role comes an unbelievable amount of automatic trust, pressure, and responsibility to do the right thing.

Clouded Vision
What happens when that new leader suddenly realizes that he or she may not necessarily appreciate some of the points of view on their leadership team? What if the inner circle isn't filled with a team of agreeable bobble heads that hang on every idea and phrase as if they were the most insightful thoughts ever uttered?

Change happens, that's what.

To be fair, I am a big fan of change. I've had to reinvent my own style of leading and getting work done over the last four years because the world around me changed. It was my responsibility to reinvent myself in order to remain current. 

However, there is danger when we raise the drawbridge and surround ourselves with a smaller and smaller team that is saddled with the responsibility of executing our grand ideas. Is it realistic for a team of less than four or five to manage thousands, or even tens of thousands of employees? 

You know the answer. Yet time and again it seems a small group of leaders (who are incredibly isolated from the front line) convince themselves they know what is best for the whole company.

There is danger in arrogance...and an ever smaller inner circle could be considered the epitome of leadership arrogance.

How About You
Where is your leadership visibility? How accessible is the leadership team...really...when so much time is spent behind a mahogany door deciding "what's best" for the institution? Where is the action that backs up speeches that espouse transparency? It's time to lower the drawbridge and lead among our teams, not over them from the balcony.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.



  1. Great post! Leaders that are not just visible, but APPROACHABLE tend to inspire trust more so than the charismatic leader great at presentations and aloof one on one. Authenticity in all situations is tell tale sign of genuine leadership.

    1. Many thanks for the comment and perspective Mark. I agree!

  2. When people approach me with a criticism of something I've done or said, I begin by thanking them. That usually catches them completely off guard because they're expecting a defensive or even antagonistic response. Then I explain that the reason I'm thanking them is because they obviously know me well enough to realize that it's safe to speak frankly with me. I may not agree with their criticism, but I try to listen with reflection to see if there is something of value I can learn about myself and my choices. I find that taking this viewpoint saves me from a lot of angst, helps me build better relationships, and often helps me refine my own perspectives in a valuable way. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thank you Robert! I love this approach!! That shows true leadership vs. "management"!

      I appreciate you sharing!