Should Leadership's Words, be Seen as Actions?
When leaders talk, the expectation is that those words must translate into action. Is this also true if the words spoken are toxic or problematic for corporate productivity?
We've all heard the saying "heavy is the crown," but this idiom is becoming increasingly confusing for many in the workforce because it relies on several antithetical leadership tenants that conflict with the very purpose of the position.
If leadership is an earned privilege only afforded to those worthy of such an honor, then how could it be prudent to portray that responsibility with such pomposity?
If those in charge view themselves as regal, then how could they possibly relate?
These questions often wind up as corporate cultural conflicts, leveraged by those at the top to create artificial separation between accountability and their actions. This artificial buffer would suggest that the crown isn't heavy at all, but rather that poor management only wants others to take the fall. How does such a fundamentally transparent and intentional lack of understanding contribute to the efficacy of employee relations? (Answer: it doesn't).
Should leaders say the sky is falling, while comfortably sitting on a cloud?
The short answer is no. The long answer has to do with how management wants to be seen by staff as it relates to their credibility. When leaders relay information that's not true in order to push motivation, they lose agency as employees call out the obvious manipulation. Companies must never rest or settle on their success, but crafting unnecessary drama to serve an obviously illegitimate agenda is a massive cause of duress. These scenarios split teams, multiply the level of effort needed for basic operations, and only decreases the value of the firm over time.
Strong leaders know that a calm, collected, well informed, and methodical approach is the best way to have the crew operating effectively. They know this because in high pressure environments, this is the best method to keep temperatures low when it's time to go. If you give your staff something to worry about that simply isn't real, it just creates an obvious resentment and eventual disenfranchisement of those left around to steady the keel. That's why it's best to train staff for a tough test, but not make an unnecessary wake to manipulate workers into giving their best. Let inspiration be the wind in their sails, so your team can reap the collective benefits of a firm's winning sales.
Words are actions, period
It's hard work being in charge, but it's even harder when those in charge fail to act responsibly as they abscond from scenarios that they're ultimately responsible for. This is where decision fatigue really sets in strongly with executives who operate in (or create) these toxic environments. They stall the most basic of decisions, to overanalyze how their actions can serve cloistered outcomes. Nothing could be more stifling to innovation, or upward mobility. This is why there's always a consistent mass exodus of executives and untenable turnover of staff at these failing firms.
The simple reality is that what leaders say or don't say, creates a culture to mirror that messaging. What is not spoken out against, is endorsed. What is stated as sanctified, becomes amplified. So when a leader uses their words, they are implicitly using their most actionable device. There's an inescapable gravity that's created for those under management's care. While employees have the ability to voice concerns, they certainly don't have the ability to enforce them.
This is precisely why the crown isn't heavy, but rather it's the weight of the words leadership chooses to use. This is the tension you always see play out publicly in workplaces throughout America. Toxic executives are eager to push absolute authority, yet when faced with consequences they are always the first to hide, avoid, delay, or send others to clean up their mess in every way. Predictably, this creates a lasting stress for those employees left to deal with the residual duress. The cycle continues and the customer continues to lose, until the appropriate corrective action is taken. Key lesson? When a leader uses their words, they are making direct actions that create a lasting impact - good or bad.
"To whom much is given without earning, much will be demanded to rectify an equally self-righteous failure and engage in corrective learning." - Unknown Corporate Guru