Career Woman

You’ve got this: No Leadership

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Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this’. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to [email protected].

Question:  I’m worried that our department seems to have no direction. I can’t identify any leadership from our director, and we just seem to be always responding to whatever head office thinks is the biggest problem, with no focus on achieving our goals or targets. We’re doing okay with the hitting the marks, but only just okay — and any sort of downturn would undermine our business, but nobody seems to be worried about preparing against that. Blaise

Dear Blaise,

This is a difficult situation.  It’s hard to be in an organization that does not offer direction and that the leader is not leading.   It sounds like this is a cultural issue within the organization and that mediocrity seems to be abundant and rampant.  There also seems to be a cultural of focusing on what’s in front of you instead of forecasting.

I recommend this book often but please read Immunity to Change by authors Kegan and Lahey.  In the book, Kegan references several mindsets but I will focus on the socialized mind, the self-authoring and self-transformative.  An individual with a socialized mind will follow the rules, seek external direction, are shaped by definitions and expectations of our environment.  According to Kegan, 75% of the population falls into this category. Self-authoring minds create a self that exists outside of others’ perspectives and judgments. They develop their own internal criteria for right and wrong. The self-authoring mind develops its own principles and beliefs, often separate from what society believes and expects. Lastly, the self-transforming mind is one that they can embrace not only your own perspective but that of others that may differ from your own.

I am gathering that you are in a work environment that might be filled with socialized mindsets.  Your boss is taking the information and expectations of those in more senior roles and doing what is expected.  How can you take this information to help you develop a strategy on dealing with your boss and leadership in the organization?  So what are your options?

  1. Is there an opportunity to pull the team together and create ideas that could become recommendations for your boss to share with their boss? The goal is to create a sense of direction and at the same time allow your boss the opportunity be included and shine.
  2. If your boss isn’t interested in doing anything but receiving a paycheck and passing on directives, can you still pull the team together to discuss processes that can make your work better? This would require building allies and establishing trust that ultimately it is about developing systems that make the work more effective and efficient.
  3. If nothing works, how do you take care of yourself within this? Does it mean doing your job knowing that it may not change and finding a way to keep sane? Do you have activities outside of work that feed you mentally, spiritually and emotionally?  I find that for so many women, our identities are tied to what we do and define who we are.  If you are able to create a space that fuels you outside of work, would it make it easier to remain there until you move to your next opportunity?
  4. Is it time to move on? If so, always develop your exit strategy.  Give yourself a timeline and begin to put your feelers out.  I know when I’ve interviewed for jobs, I was focused on the role and compensation that I didn’t ask questions about culture, how conflict is resolved and other important questions.  Just as you are being interviewed, make sure that you pay attention to the signs and flags—interview the employer, too!  I’ve learned that everything (including jobs and relationships) do not deserve your time or your response!

There is definitely a difference between a manager and a leader.  You have a manager, friend.  This is definitely a lesson of leadership that will serve as a reminder to you in the future of what NOT be as a leader.  You. Got. This, Blaise.  Best wishes!

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe.

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