As CEO or another C-Suite leader, it is no surprise that you don’t hear about everything that is going on in your organization. And, for that, you are sometimes thankful. Petty conflicts, staff drama, everyday decisions on routine matters, are all the things you are glad to have no knowledge. However, there ARE some things you probably don’t know that you wish you did.
No matter how open, approachable, and friendly you are, others may act overly deferential, careful, intimidated, scared, shy, or even secretly against you! So, what is it you NEED to know that you often don’t?
Here is my list:
- Feedback about your impact on the organization, others overall and some very specific interactions. I am NOT talking about other’s opinions and judgments about your strengths and weaknesses. Those are often contextual anyway. What is a strength in one situation can easily be a weakness in others. What I am talking about is an objective description from smart, perceptive people who can articulately explain “When you said/did this, it impacted others like that”. THIS is gold, and when delivered with respect (and phrased correctly), can be the most valuable intelligence you can get after critical meetings with your Board, your team, or other critical stakeholders. Getting this early can prevent sparks from turning into wildfires.
- Feedback about the impact of your team members on their teams, and throughout their parts of the organization. Are you aware of the reputation of critical leaders in the organization and do THEY know what it is? Do you—or they–care? After all, you may have someone on your team who “kisses up and kicks down”. In this case, you only see them at their best and may not believe what the word on the street is. But it matters and it can/will cost you the engagement of your best people as well as productivity and efficiency. In other words, real dollars.
- Misalignment among your executive leadership team. And, here I am referring to real, substantive misalignment based upon differing fundamental, beliefs and assumptions about people, your business and/or industry. Sometimes, this misalignment is rooted in personality differences and sometimes different professional experiences. The fact that differences in beliefs/assumptions about what could, should or will happen is not by itself, an issue. In fact, these often do exist. BUT, if they are not understood and discussed, that is what can slow down or stall execution on your strategies.
- What is the “culture” or sub-cultures in your organization? How do employees treat one another, how do leaders treat their staff? Sure, there are always a few bad apples but there are also organizations, divisions or teams where toxic behavior is a regular occurrence. You may believe that it will likely go away by itself or that HR can handle it, but frankly, you’re wrong. Eventually, whether you know it or not, everyone is pointing at YOU for not dealing with that person or people.
If you don’t know these things, or perhaps worse, don’t want to know, you are missing critical intelligence that will limit the impact of your leadership. Send me an email, I’d be glad to talk to you about how to learn what’s really happening if others aren’t telling you.