Craig Groeschel is a really smart guy. He happens to be a pastor of a very large church, but he's also a leadership expert. He's written several books and speaks at conferences (I heard him recently at one called Catalyst One Day in Minneapolis and met him afterward for an interview; more to come on that) but his advice about leading a company is what really caught my attention.
He has some interesting views and practices. For example, even though he leads a large organization, he rarely does any job interviews (i.e., only for his immediate assistant). He believes in doing less in leadership as a way to enable others to do more and rise in the ranks. He sees great leaders as what you nurture, not hire. He believes in delegating your weakest skills, which is a practice many leaders try to avoid doing because it makes you look like you are delegating things you don't like.
During one of his talks, he hit on a few points about how to spot problems within your staff. The main point is something he mentioned; I'm adding a few of my own ideas.
1. You have to constantly tell people what to do
As a leader, one of the sure signs you are not being that effective has to do with micro-managing. If you feel like you have to tell people what to do constantly, it means you have not empowered them to make decisions. They're about to revolt because, as humans, we hate being in that state of indecision. Anyone who has to wait around and be told what to do is miserable. It's important to be the type of leader who gives people the freedom to make decisions and act on them without your direct involvement. Mutiny is essentially a reaction to control.
2. You have no influencers
Here's an interesting one. If you look around at your employees and realize that no one is really doing any influencing or mentoring with other employees, it might be because you are the only one doing the influencing. That's bad for morale, because people love to share what they know and influence. Maybe you've created an unhealthy environment where people don't feel they have any influence. Maybe you always jump into the mentoring role. Encourage your staff to be influencers.
3. No one ever tells you the truth
There's a great quote by Andy Stanley, who also led sessions at the seminar: "Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say." Employees might be ready to revolt in that situation, because they don't see you as someone who will listen when they need to tell you the truth. The secret here is to do more than just listen, and more than just ask questions. The secret is to create an environment where the truth and the facts always win.
4. No one bothers talking to you about plans
You want to instill a grand vision in your employees, but no one seems to get it. In my experience, that's usually because you created the grand plan without their involvement (or even their knowledge) all on your own. Too many leaders tend to create plans they like, and are surprised when no one wants to talk about your ideas. Guess what? It's because the employees don't feel included and they are making their own, separate plans. In some cases, it's to leave the company.
5. No one has any clear opportunities
One of the clearest signs you have a staff problem is when there are no opportunities. I'm not talking merely about a new role in the company or a new service offering. Opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, one of those shapes is just the opportunity to learn and grow, or the opportunity to be part of something unique. Create those opportunities. Make sure employees are always challenged.