Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: The Role of Character in Leadership

This article relates to the Senior /Top Level Management competency, designed to measure satisfaction levels regarding top-level management at your organization. EngagedMetrics defines senior management as the team of individuals at the highest level of management who have the day-to-day responsibilities of operating the organization. For many employees, this competency will target the managers occupying positions above their immediate supervisors. The questions included in this competency are written to investigate topics such as strategic leadership, corporate vision, and corporate direction. This competency is especially useful in understanding how much your workforce favors the present direction of the organization.

This short story, The Role of Character in Leadership, was part of EngagedMetrics' compilation, Tales From the Corporate Frontlines. It illustrates the importance of having a senior management team that has the character to abandon unsuccessful strategies, admit failure, and move on.

Anonymous Submission

The Role of Character in Leadership

After a recent meeting with the Senior Management team at my company, I had the chance to consider an issue that I feel is crucial to the successful operation of every organization. We had just completed an employee satisfaction survey, and the results had come in. Our employees have an overwhelmingly positive view of the direction in which we, the top-level management team, are taking the company.

So, what, I wondered, was the difference between my current company and the one I worked for five years ago? The employee satisfaction survey results reminded me of the scenario back then, only at that time, the results were the exact opposite. Employees were united in disapproval of their top-level management team.

I am a new member of senior management, so I was interested in understanding the reasons for the differing results - hoping to avoid repeating that unhappy scenario.

What does my current management team do differently? After some introspection, I believe I found the answer.

At my former company, I was a marketing manager. Senior management had devised an idea for an ad campaign that had been passed down from management personnel at our new parent company. Full-scale meetings were held, and we were instructed to create this campaign and make it work.

The idea presented a multitude of problems, but the team soldiered on. We did the best we could, all the while expressing our reservations as to how effective the finished campaign would be. Senior management completely ignored our concerns.

The campaign was a huge flop, to put it mildly. We were directed to keep trying to fix it by adjusting certain elements and eliminating others. Once again, we resisted, to no avail. The campaign died a slow, lengthy, and very painful death.

Then the blame game began. Everyone from mid level managers to call center reps was blamed for the failure. Bitterness over the episode found its way into policy changes, annual reviews and salary increases.

No wonder the employees registered their disapproval of top management and its direction for the company at the first available opportunity! Thinking about it now, the difference in character strength between the two management teams is obvious.

The reality is that not all ideas are perfect. Some things you try will not be successful no matter how hard your well-meaning employees try. When my current company recently encountered a similar situation to the one described above, it was handled quite differently. We let go and moved on to something new.

One test of managerial wisdom is to know when to admit mistakes and move on, without passing the blame on to undeserving employees. I was happy to be part of a senior management team that passed that test with flying colors.

2005 EngagedMetrics, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

This article may be reprinted, provided it is published in its entirety, includes the author bio information, and all links remain active.

Measure. Report. Improve your organization with EngagedMetrics Employee Survey System.

Josh Greenberg is President of EngagedMetrics, Inc.

EngagedMetrics provides organizations of all sizes a powerful web based method for measuring employee satisfaction, determining employee engagement, and increasing employee retention.

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