It’s not uncommon for certain individuals within an organization to bear a portion of the weight from those around them. Managers at every level assume responsibility for those within their team and ultimately, for their team’s productivity and output. But what happens when this responsibility becomes a burden? Many organizations will face the following consequences:
Lack of understanding
Many managers are appointed on the basis of hard skills — a level of technical competency and knowledge which allows them to carry out the necessary work. But what is often disregarded are the soft skills that allow managers to understand and navigate their team most effectively. An overwhelmed manager has barely any capacity to work on anything beyond the task at hand. They have minimal opportunity to engage with their team or learn how best to lead them.
It’s these soft skills, such as the ability to understand how human beings work and thrive, that will become the decisive success factor in the future world of work.
Exhausted managers and key employees
As managers assume the bulk of responsibility for their team’s work outcomes, they quickly find themselves exhausted and burnt out. The same is true for many key employees. This not only has consequences for their state of mind, but it also doesn’t translate into good work or judgment. Productivity slows, mistakes are made, internal resignation increases, and sick leave requests come piling in. Exhausted managers and key employees are like thirsty roots that fail to nourish the plant as a whole.
Dissatisfaction and boredom
Not only do managers lose energy when responsibility rests solely on their shoulders, but every other employee underneath them does too. There’s nothing more demotivating than lacking purpose in the workplace — if no one holds you responsible or expects you to expend your full effort? It becomes very difficult to push yourself or feel fulfilled in your work. Employees who are made to feel this way will quickly lose interest and relocate to another organization.
Fear of action
Allowing an employee to take on responsibility is a sign of trust and respect. Without this, working relationships can quickly break down. Employees who don’t feel appreciated by those in charge will soon lose confidence and become afraid to speak up. That means any unique talents, skills, or resources an individual brought to the workplace will dwindle as unused potential. This fear of action creates even further imbalance as employees stop asking for responsibility and the burden on their manager increases.
We believe a new leadership concept is needed that is effective for ALL: We call it «Zeitgeist» Leadership. It all starts with Self Leadership, followed by Team Leadership and People Leadership.
Self Leadership: Every person has the challenge to lead themselves.
Team Leadership: Team members must actively support each other to succeed together.
People Leadership: Leaders will steer their people to reach a greater goal.
«Zeitgeist» Leadership requires an optimal combination of Self Leadership, Team Leadership, and People Leadership. Rather than responsibility resting with the few, responsibility is instead shared by all. Leadership is no longer simply about the leadership of others, but also about increasing leadership of oneself. This approach relieves the strain on managers while providing individual empowerment to employees so they may step up and take ownership. We believe this kind of Self Leadership will be essential for the success of people and organizations in the future.