The Golden Rule is Not Good Enough
Leadership has many ironies. Here’s an important one: Every manager thinks they’re a great leader, yet very few of them are.
The Great Resignation has exposed this gap in a way few companies can ignore. It’s put a spotlight on the weaknesses within our current management systems. With record attrition, companies are trying to figure out how to respond.
Faced with this opportunity to reflect and improve, most companies choose to put their heads in the sand. They push the story that people just don’t want to work. It’s an easy excuse to make. It diverts focus from management and places the blame on entitled workers. No one needs to take a hard look in the mirror if the problem is that people simply don’t want to work.
Yet the data doesn’t support this claim. The unemployment rate is under 4% and more than 80% of prime-age workers are employed or looking for work. This is higher than it was for most of the Obama administration. People aren’t leaving their current jobs to sit at home and collect unemployment. They’re leaving their jobs to find better jobs. They’re leaving their current bosses to find better leaders.
People do want to work. They just don’t want to work for the same poor managers they’ve tolerated for too long.
The most shocking aspect of this is that it’s a surprise to anyone. Employee engagement numbers have been embarrassingly low for years. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on leadership training worldwide, we haven’t moved the needle on creating a more engaged workforce.
Why haven’t these numbers spurred more urgency? And why, even now with a clear case for action, do we continue to avoid meaningful action? For the same reason that we’ve had ways to adopt clean energy for decades yet continue to burn fossil fuels more than ever. Change is hard. And very few people seem themselves as being the problem.
Most bosses think they’re doing a great job. If you walked around any office in the world and asked management how they stack up against their peers, everyone would tell you that they’re above average. Some of this is due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, Darwin was spot on when he said, “Ignorance more frequently begets…