Two Things Every Leader Gets


Leaders get a combination of what they create and what they allow.

That’s one of the themes that runs throughout Dr. Henry Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge published in April of 2013.  Ok, but what does that mean?

What Leaders Create

As leaders, we have influence over the culture in our organization. Whether we are a front line supervisor, a mid-level manager, a Senior VP, or a C-level suite, we can intentionally create programs and incentives that encourages the culture we wish.

For example, if you wish to foster an environment of teamwork and collaboration in your network administration team, you can create it. One option would be to hold a 15-minute stand-up meeting each morning where your sys admins share something cool that they’ve recently discovered or discuss a technical problem that they are battling. Openly sharing and working together toward a common goal will help create a sense of camaraderie in your team.

This is but one example of intentionally creating an outcome you’ll receive as a leader. But you also get what you allow.

What Leaders Allow

The corollary of getting what you create is getting what you allow. We may not intentionally set out to create a certain culture in our team, but if we allow behaviors that promote that culture, that’s exactly what we’ll get.

Take meetings, for example. If you routinely wait to start your weekly meeting until the majority of your team arrives, you are subtly telling everyone that it’s ok to be late, that you’ll wait for them. So, what will happen? More and more people will show up late to your meetings. And why not, there’s no reason to show up on time when you’re not going to start the meeting until everyone arrives. They might as well spend those extra few minutes being productive at their desks rather than waiting in a conference room. So, you’ve inadvertently created a culture of tardiness, where time is not respected.

The same could be said for negativity in your team, for a lack of problem solving by your direct reports, and for placing self-interests above team interests. By not explicitly dealing with behaviors that drive a work environment, you are implicitly creating that culture. You are allowing it to happen.

What Are You Getting?

So, what are you getting? Are you intentionally creating an environment that produces the atmosphere that you want? Have you invested yourself and your resources into improving the culture of your team?

And what about the things you allow? Is your team creating something that you’d rather not have because you haven’t yet stepped up to lead?

Remember, leaders always get a combination of what they intentionally create and what they implicitly allow. Or as W. Edwards Deming once put it “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it produces.”

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