I was engaged in conversation with a new manager who was frustrated with his team. “I don’t get it. I give them all the room in the world to innovate their roles, to complete their assignments. Yet they come back to me with everything. I know the last manager wanted to see everything before it went out, but I don’t.”
This began our coaching session about his leadership style, and the contrast between him and his predecessor. We expanded it into the climate of his team, and the culture of his organization. He eventually discovered the culture of his organization is forgiveness, which aligned with his interview experience. The climate of his team was permission.
The culture of forgiveness is what he described as his style – giving his team room to accomplish their tasks, innovate new processes, and if they fail, the team celebrates the learning. They forgive the failure, seeing it as innovation. His team, however, had been managed for years by a permission person. All decisions ran through this former manager, so there was little room for anyone to step outside the existing ways to create, modify, or enhance.
Over time the team became so permission oriented that they weren’t looking for any opportunities to grow – either themselves or the team – and the team meetings became a status report on projects instead of a meaningful discussion on efficiency and effectiveness for the team. In other words, the meetings were stale, the team was constantly seeking direction, and this new manager was growing weary fast.
How would you describe the culture of your organization? Does your team climate match the culture? The tension between different styles is a pressure point, and being aware of that will help you guide your team through it. How are you as a leader? Do you have your team seek permission or forgiveness? If you just answered, ‘it depends’, then think about how you could have forgiveness where permission currently lives, and vice versa. It’s a growth opportunity for you, and your team. If you choose it!