The Leadership Gap

By: David Sussman, CEO PFP | The Family Security Plan®

You are sitting around the table in the conference room and you ask your team if they are doing the “thing” you had talked about last month. They assured you they were, yet they had not done it at that time.

Your team identified an issue, concern or problem in a meeting and turned to you for a solution. You directed them with an answer and felt proud, as if your leadership challenge was met with a power-play response. Unfortunately, several months later, the issue still existed.

You keep bringing up a desire for a change in your organization’s operation model.

The change was subtle, yet you believed it would yield significant results when implemented. The implementation is not happening as planned.

You go on a sales call and meet with the management team of your prospect. You uncover a possible “pain point.” At that time, the CEO looks to his team and mentions his solution that had already been implemented last year. The CEO then asks the team how things have been going with regard to that solution. The team assures the CEO that “things” are going well and they are getting “things” done as expected. When the CEO leaves the room, the team looks at you and confesses that the pain point remains a pain and the solution is ineffective. 

Welcome to “The Leadership Gap,” defined as the distance between what a leader wants to be happening and expects to be happening vs. the reality of what is happening and the effectiveness of what has happened.

Every leader and every organization suffers from The Leadership Gap.

The variable lies in how big the gap is and what is going on in and around the organization to close the gap. 

Here is what you can do:

Just admit it.  Your company or team suffers from The Leadership Gap. You cannot close the gap if you don’t believe it is there. So you have to believe.  While leaders think their word is gospel and will be followed by their teams to the end of the earth, I have news for you.  “THAT AIN’T HAPPENING!” 

How can you close the gap?

First of all, communicate with outrageous consistency and clarity. Your team will have no chance of doing what you want and expect if they don’t know what you want and expect, understand it and believe in it. That comes with words, formed in a way the receiver wants to hear them. Your message needs to be repeated the secret number of times, which is “enough times” and in differing settings.

Second of all, gain buy-in by slowing down and teaching the team, if necessary, about the problem, its impact on the organization and the directive to redress the situation. The team may have most of the aforementioned as part of their current mindset. However, there is a good chance that they need more information added so they are on board with the problem and the solution. Without by-in, your idea, regardless of your power, level or title, is Dead On Arrival (DOA).

Third of all, hold your team accountable. Measure the right thing to know if the team has been executing the plan. Make it part of your day to look at that metric and know if you were headed in the right direction.  Create an expectation that the numbers will move in your desired direction and know, “That which gets measured, gets improved.”

Lastly, ask questions. Regardless if things are going well or your idea is struggling, ask questions to gain the most understanding of the status, the result and the process. Your questions reiterate the importance of the “thing” you wish to get done and they demonstrate your engagement into every aspect of your organization. 

Closing the Leadership Gap needs to be on the top of every executive’s personal goals and growth plan.

As leaders, we got here because our vision is lofty and our expectations are grand.  As a result, it is possible that your organization my always have a Leadership Gap at some level.  When you make it a point to deal with it every day, you have the best chance of success, you have the greatest opportunity to become great. 

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