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Leadership Among Idiots

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The Learning Spotlight

Dear Supervisor

By John Grubbs


I am writing this letter because it is sometimes difficult for me to give you feedback and there are some things that I expect from you as my boss.  I don’t want to offend you and I don’t want to make you angry but I don’t think you know how to get the most from us as subordinates.  Please know that what I am writing is intended to make you a better leader as well as make us more likely to accomplish your objectives.

We really do want to do a good job for you and I don’t think you know what really motivates us to perform.  Keeping good people on the team makes everyone’s job better.  Don’t ever settle for just anyone because "we" have to work with them and often "we" carry the load that they don’t.  Additionally, you need to keep the best and brightest people that are currently on the team.  We are concerned when good team members leave to find something better elsewhere.  It makes us wonder if we should leave too.

Your integrity is most critical for us to trust you and we cannot follow you if we don’t trust you to do what you say you are going to do.  Believe it or not, we don’t even have to like what you want us to do if we know you are fair and consistent with assignments.  Please don’t lie to us orsomeone else in our presence.  We want to trust you and when you don’t tell the truth, it makes trust very difficult.  We will forgive you when you make amistake.  Own up to error and those occasional lapses in judgment and we will pull for you to be successful.  If you promise to do something, we need to know that you have done everything in your power to make it happen.

You are "the company" to us and when you blame or talk bad about the organization, we get confused.  We see only your perspective and hope that it is a representation of what others in leadership think and expect.  We don’t want to be a part of anything negative and look to you for cues on how to take that same information.  Often, our behavior is a direct representation of what we think you expect from us.  Regardless of whatever posters they hang on the walls or the speeches we hear, your opinion and expectations are what guides our behavior.

Your actions always speak louder than words and we judge those actions constantly.  If you are quick to take a shortcut or sacrifice quality, we will too.  You are never “not leading” and we do want you to be successful on the job.  On or off the job, we evaluate your motives and actions to see what you really think about many different things.  This evaluation is subtle and we know you are not perfect.  Know that you are under constant scrutiny from us. We don’t always have to agree with you to respect the fact that you have strong opinions about certain things.

Respect and appreciate the contributions we make and we will give you more than you ever imagined.  Undervalue our effort and you will get less from all of us.  We are not "that hard" to please and if you make a sincere effort, we will give you our effort in return.  The little things really do matter to us and we expect you to try to make our work easier any way that you can.  When you overlook our struggles, no matter how small, we start to doubt that we are important to you or the company.  If we are not important, then why should we stay with you?

Finally, we expect you to stand up for us when it counts.  If we make a mistake trying to do the right thing, we hope you protect us from negative consequences.  If we cannot fail, then we start to make fewer decisions and you have to do more work.  We won’t show initiative or give extra effort if we don’t think you notice. 

I hope you won’t take this letter the wrong way as we really do want you to be the best!  We will share more later.



Your Employee


Please share your comments and thoughts: john@gci4training.com