Not Voicing an Opinion: Blunder #7

Unless you are intentionally making your team think through something without benefit of your advice—and stumbling and bumbling about in the meantime—you’ve got to voice your opinion.

Not speaking up when the team is about to fail is an abdication of your role as leader.*

I have seen a couple of times when managers who  knew their team was going to fail.  In one instance, the manager wanted the team to “be taken down a notch or two.”  In the other, the manager simply didn’t want to get involved “down in the dirt.”  In both cases, the team had a public failure, and in both cases the manager piled on the additional harm of declaring that they knew the team would fail.  The team members’ anger towards the manager was intense, though few showed it.  But they each never put forth their full effort, and spent too much time wondering how their manager was going to screw them again.  (And the highest performing employee immediately rang up a headhunter and soon vacated her position for another company.  She said that she would never give that manager another chance if she could help it.)

* The exception to the rule is when you want the team to fail so that they can learn from failure.  However, the failure cannot be a big failure that hurts their reputation in any way, such as when their failure is visible to outside parties.  If you let them fail under those conditions—when you could have prevented it—then they will have real animosity towards you, and they may never trust you again.

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