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In my previous post I described a training exercise that I led for a client yesterday. In the post I showed a picture that captured a team in the initial phases of becoming disengaged as the team got stuck trying to solve a problem.

This picture shows the final stages of that disengagement. At this point the ‘staff’ on the front line had almost completely checked out. We explain that this happens when leaders don’t fully engage their people. Don’t give them pertinent information. Don’t provide context or meaning about assignments, processes, roles, and responsibilities.  People get confused, they get frustrated, they bicker and ultimately become unproductive. Because they were unable to communicate verbally during this exercise they were to supposed to write notes to each other to help solve the problem. Unfortunately leaders weren’t engaging the staff, managers weren’t engaging the staff, so instead of problem solving their communication devolved into something a bit less useful.

While this was only an exercise this is what we see happening routinely in our clients’ organizations. Our goal is help leaders become more effective by helping them understand how to create an environment where people feel valued, are engaged and appreciated for doing good work. When people feel good about the work they are performing, good about the environment they are performing it in, and good about the people they are performing with, they usually perform better.

Because it is ultimately the staff who will be charged with transforming a leader’s vision into reality, it is in a leader’s best interest to help their people do good work. Deming once said the “the opportunity to do good work is a birth right”. If this is true then leaders responsibility is not only operational but also divine. If you are a leader and you aren’t helping your people do good work you are not only doing them a disservice, you are doing yourself a one as well. So lead, follow, or get out the way!