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Applying the Rules Blindly Is Not Leadership

Applying the Rules Blindly Is Not LeadershipAs a young man, I became close friends with a new RCMP Constable assigned to my home town. One night he got a call from the local motel and was told that there was a fight.

As he told me the story several days later, he said:  “what I didn’t know was that the fight wouldn’t start until I got there.” He understood, in hindsight, that his early view of being a cop was to enforce the laws stringently and never cut slack. The “fight” at the motel was a not-so-subtle suggestion that the men in town didn’t appreciate being treated this way. This was their less than diplomatic way of sending the rookie a message. Not a tactic that I would condone!

However, the message was a valuable one. It’s a message that our new leaders need to learn if they are to be successful. Yes, the rules are there for our own good; however, common sense is likely the most valuable tool we have to make sure that we get buy-in to what we are doing.

When front line supervisors blindly apply the rules and then use this to make their point when employees complain, they are missing out on the critical need to gain the trust and respect of the people they are leading. Employees rarely report in engagement surveys that they aren’t clear on what needs to get done or don’t have the right resources to do the job. Almost without exception, the buy-in (the willingness to do their job) is the weakest part of the survey.

“Rookie” leaders can fail to understand that the emotions of their team dramatically impact their willingness to go above and beyond.

There is a reason why many change initiatives fail! It isn’t because we fail to correctly define the problem to be solved or fail to provide an effective solution; we almost always fail because we didn’t get buy-in from the users of the new tools to the changes they will cause in their work life. Change is about fear! Fear of the impact on my job, my long term security, my ability to do the job well.

Want to avoid all of this?

Take the time to gain input from the rank and file employees. Make sure your leaders listen to their concerns and address them at both a rational and emotional level.


Workplace Engagement Insights will help your organization build a high performance culture of engaged employees and great leaders. Get a free consultation with me to discuss your business needs.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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