I look at everything through an “experience” lens. Customer experience, employee experience, coachee experience. I’ve recently turned my thoughts to the leader experience. What makes work a great experience for leaders?
They are employees of course, so the employee experience relates just as much to them as it does to anyone else at any level. They want a great start in the organisation, they want satifying role challenge, they want to change role periodically, they want to have a good leaving experience whenever that happens.
But in addition to all of these transition points, they also want to be a great leader and receive great leadership.
We’ve all heard of the research that says that employees leave their manager, not an organisation. Well that applies just as much at the top of the organisation as it does at the bottom. The leadership and management that they need is likely different, due to their maturity. They have become experts in their field, so they don’t need to be told what to do, in most cases. They have lots of transferable skills, so perhaps simply need a nudge every now and again to apply those skills. They still need feedback and they certainly need coaching, to help them to think through situations that require new thinking.
Do they get that? My hunch is that they don’t. Partly because they don’t ask for it, feeling like their boss has too much to think about already, and not wanting to be vulnerable in front of said boss. But partly because the more senior you get, the less support your seniors seem to think you need or want. Perhaps they are afraid of undermining the person’s credibility or confidence. I don’t know why. But it appears to happen over and over again.
This is NOT a good leader experience. Everyone needs support and challenge throughout their career to feel the stretch but not the stress.
So if you are a leader, who wants more support and challenge, ask for it.
If you are a leader who knows you aren’t giving enough support and challenge, start giving it.
The leader experience will be so much better for all concerned, including business results.