Tough times require leaders to commit to delivering results. Weak managers see this as a time to sit on the side and only jump onto the bandwagon when the results are clear. Strong managers on the other hand, play the role of the little red hen and get to work. A red hen sees the need to act and mobilize others to make a difference.
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The red hen is not the sign of weak management, rather weak management can be seen in the reaction of others to the little red hen’s actions. Weak managers are the other farm animals that say “not I” when asked to contribute to a project. Its only when success is assured, that the weak managers come around and ask to participate in the success.
The strong manager is the red hen who takes responsibility and accountability for creating something out of nothing. They harvest the wheat, grind it into flower, form it into bread, bake it and now have a finished fresh loaf of bread. Your enterprise needs more red hen’s and less barnyard bandwagon hangers on.
Weak managers separate responsibility from accountability. They do not want to invest in new projects or value creation until the work is done and the results are in. That is when everyone wants to be accountable for results.
Addressing this management weakness is the sole responsibility of senior managers and executives.
- Recognize the little red hens in your company. The people who see the need to take responsibility and seek to mobilize their peers to compete that action. These are people who are building your ability to perform in the market.
- Know the difference between red hens who are inclusive and peacocks who take action on their own and for their own reasons.
- Bypass your direct reports to see what is going on at the front lines. They need to be close enough to what is going on to recognize the difference between those taking responsibility and doing the hard work.
- They need to know their business well enough to see three connections between business drivers and the results created from leaders taking action.
- They need to recognize that leaders who take a chance and achieve limited results are among your more valuable employees, particularly if they learn from their experience. Remember that a manager who only has wins (4-0) is nowhere near as valuable as a manager who wins even 70% of the time (10 – 3).
- They need to publically recognize the managers who have taken a chance and go out in front to lead while putting barnyard bandwagon managers in their proper context.
George Orwell was right “all animals are created equal, and some are more equal than others.” The red hens in your company should be those accorded that status, rather than those who only commit when the result is know and the risk is gone.