Most people think of leaders as being charismatic. These are individuals who are constantly in front of the troops. Shouting encouragement and cheering them on.
The “out front” leader plays an important role in an organization, but there is another type of leader who lurks behind the scenes that deserves special mention because they are actually more effective than the “testosterone leader.”
This is the behind-the-scenes leader who sees their raison d’être to create an environment for people to achieve remarkable things and to personally flourish. They place the priority on determining what people need to do their jobs and responding accordingly.
Seven Tasks that Make the Behind-the-Scenes Leader Remarkable
- Cleaning up the messes. Things constantly go wrong in any organization. They always have and they always will because of unexpected events or because of unintended human or technology glitches. The behind-the-scenes leader makes it a priority to fix things FAST rather than spend a whole lot of time finding blame. They realize that strategic progress is made only if normal activity can return to normal state as soon as possible.
- Bashing barriers. Removing obstacles that prevent people from effectively performing their role is important for your employees and company’s success. Rules, procedure, and policies can get in the way of people doing their jobs and it is critical they be cleaned up quickly. This cleansing process is a vital enabler to organizational performance and is a top priority of this “quiet” leader.
- Telling stories. Motivation is stimulated through telling a story that paints a picture of what success looks like in the trenches. It’s all very well to explain in formal terms what is expected but it is quite another to describe what success looks like in qualitative terms using rich language, visuals, and examples with employees acting out the script. This leader uses the power of the story to move people rather than relying solely on traditional motivation methods to achieve the end.
- Preparing the environment. Ensuring a comfortable state of readinessso that people are “leaning in” to what is expected of them without distractions. If workplace details are not attended to they appear as irritants to people; performance suffers. This leader treats favourable hygiene factors the basis for success.
- Recognizing performance. Catching people “doing things right” and coaching others when expected behaviour is not demonstrated. The behind-the-scenes leader spends a copious amount of time walking about the workplace, observing what people are doing, assessing what they see relative to the strategy of the organization and intervening either to applaud an employee or coaching them to do things differently.
It’s the little things that add up to delivering either amazing results or falling short; this leader gets it.
- Clarifying roles in execution. The individual’s role in executing the organization’s strategic game plan is put under the magnifying glass by this leader. Specifically, what THEY need to do in their position to support synergistic implementation of strategy is spelled out in detailed granular fashion. In addition, performance criteria are provided to every employee so they know exactly what is expected of them.
This leader knows that if direct line of sight isn’t provided between the organization’s strategic game plan and the role of each employee, execution fails and expected results are not achieved.
- Playing Dick Tracy. This leader is on a mission to get to know people on a more personal level; to learn their wants and desires. They understand the power of a personal connection with people in terms of fostering trust and a willingness to strive higher levels of performance. And they don’t forget what they learn about people.
They keep a mental file on what they discover to inform them on future decisions affecting the assignment of people to key projects.
Standout leaders do not have to shine in the spotlight. They don’t have to be on stage performing so that everyone will see them and pass on their disingenuous adulation.
They quietly focus on taking care of the little things that make their teams perform remarkably.