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They’re keeping things from you. Don’t be naive…

Leadership naivety - intelligence & risk solutions

Becoming a leader can be a lonely place. For those of us who have led teams, there are different routes to it. You can work for a large employer and get promoted from within. Or you can start your own business and have to become a leader when you employ new staff. Either way, relationships can make or break your leadership work. See why…

For those who have been promoted, you’d expect to be given some training on how to lead a team. Forget that. Any training you get will relate to the mechanical things you will be expected to do. New IT systems and the like.

No one will show you ‘how’ to lead a team. It’s down to you to pick up as you go along. Of course you can read the plethora of books on leadership theory out there. The ‘type’ of leader you should become. But what none of them will prepare you for is the personality challenges you will face.

From the staff member who wants to be your friend, just because of your role. To the disruptive influencer who has an opinion on everything. You have to skillfully craft how to deal with challenges as they come up. Judging from your experience of people how to handle those challenges.

When you’re promoted internally, at first, everyone will support you because you are one of ‘them’. But over time you’ll have to make difficult decisions. Like stopping your drinking buddy having annual leave for his six year old’s birthday. Or stopping someone going part-time because it leaves the team short of staff at critical times in the year.

Sometimes things that you might consider paltry, can really impact the lives of your team. It can be something silly like a team member being asked to go on a project whichs means they have to travel 2 miles further to get to work. People don’t like change.

I managed a significant change program in one of the districts I worked. It secured £15 million in non-cashable savings for the organisation. But with that change came new ways of working and new processes and procedures. Change upsets people. It can be things as silly as, ‘where will my locker be?’ through to, ‘will it change my shifts and impact my holiday plans?’

Change - intelligence & risk solutions

Some concerns are of course relevant and any caring organisation should do its best to help people adjust. The key to change is communication. Trying to do change ‘with’ people not ‘to’ them.

So when you have to implement a change that the team collectively don’t like, as a leader it is up to you to make the change happen and try and bring the team with you. It can be difficult when you’ve just been promoted and the team are ‘your mates’. But believe me, the minute you start to make decisions that they don’t like, the relationship will change for you and them. They will start to see you differently and feel ‘you’ve changed’.

Whether you have or haven’t isn’t the point. The point is, as a leader you sometimes have to take one for the organisation. You might have to sacrifice your friendships on the team. Certainly, the going out drinking and socialising might have to go on the back burner.

Leadership is difficult. It isn’t for everyone and so becoming a leader because your business is growing is an altogether different challenge. The fact you personally are paying the new staff puts a whole new aspect to your leadership. You obviously want people to buy in to what your company is doing. And you want them to be loyal because you’re paying them.

The problem is work isn’t for everyone. Some love it. Some are hyper committed. And some are lazy and couldn’t care less. You have to manage them all with equal and obvious care for their wellbeing, treating them the same no matter who your favourite is. Because they will think you have one. And you will.

As your leadership matures and you grow more distant from the team, or you have moved a step further up again, away from the ‘shopfloor’ you become a remote figure who the team don’t see as part of them anymore. They’ll stop inviting you on social events. You’ll hear news second-hand. And they will (certainly if they haven’t worked directly for you) be more remote when you pass in the corridor.

The key to all of this is communication. Taking time to inquire into a person’s welfare is hyper important. Being emphthetic to their needs even when you can’t address them. Giving them the odd perk that they don’t expect. It all goes to creating relationships which bring respect for you as a human even if you aren’t on the team anymore. I learnt this slowly, because I was a go-getter more interested in grabbing the collar of a criminal than how the team were ‘feeling’. I actually had to learn to be more empathetic. To think more about feelings than doing. It didn’t and probably still doesn’t come naturally to me. Bloke. That’s my excuse.

I have made loads of mistakes as a leader. Reading signals wrongly mainly. Or being absorbed in something that is bothering me and missing the signals that the team are giving off at the same time. I can drive people hard and I expect them to work, not for me, with me to put the bad guys on the back foot.

I once had to deliver some training to the district. Short and sweet, keep it simple stuff. I don’t believe in fluff or jargon. I was responsible for the detection rate of the district and because the Force had been creating teams for everything, some had lost the ability to effectively deal with criminals. Interviewing skills and the like. So I set about going to the training days of our uniform colleagues. Giving them little snippets of tactical behaviour to secure criminal charges and detections. I asked them why they joined. Many say, ‘to serve the community’ or ‘to make a difference’.

I said I joined to help Mrs Miggins put the light out. Because when Mrs Miggins, the 80 year old lady, has been burgled by Billy Blockhead, she can no longer put the light out. She’s frightened. She’s scared of going to sleep. It’s our job to help her. So it’s not about ‘figures’. (it was for me because I had to count them – it absolutely isn’t for the team – they’re the go-getters) It’s about Mrs Miggins. Help her to put the light out. Get a grip of Billy Blockhead and make the lad pay his dues. That’s why we join the police. Not to help the ‘community’. That’s not tangible and is fluff.

I once managed two detective sergeants. I had reason to speak to one of the detective constables over poor performance. She was a female which, rightly or wrongly, always makes me think I need another manager in the room when I deliver the difficult news. So I went to the two sergeants. I asked them if one of them would sit in while I spoke to this DC.

That was my first mistake. I have always been hands on and get involved in things. What I should have done is told the two DS’s I was unhappy with this officer’s performance and one of them should speak to her. I shouldn’t have been the one doing it.

There was a kind of pause, when I asked them both. I didn’t pick up on it at that pont in time but after thinking about it afterwards, there was a definite pause while they looked at each other. One of them got up and volunteered. I called the officer into my office and expressed my concern at a lack of visible effort into an operation she was suposed to be leading on. The tears came and she blamed other officers for not helping her.

I set some deadlines for her to meet with the operation and caused the other named officer to help her meet those deadlines.

I noticed the ‘other’ sergeant became a little remote and I subsequently found out he was having an affair with her. He was married. I had no clue.

This is an example of what I am talking about when I say ‘they’ keep things from you. All leaders like to think they have the handle on everything that is going on with their teams. Yet I worked in the same building as the DS’s and DC’s on my teams and I didn’t have a Skoobie Doo they were in a relationship. Now you could say, what does that have to do with me anyway. They’re consenting adults. Of course I wouldn’t try and do anything to put a stop to it. I lead the team I don’t manage morals. But the team keep things like this from leaders for a reason.

It could cause unrest on the team because of favouritism. It could cause domestic issues and that could significantly impact team morale and work. It could, and it did, cause a rift between me and the sergeant in question as he sought to support the DC over me.

With hindsight, had I known, I would probably had one of them move to another team. Just to stop the kind of problems I outline from happening. I’m no marriage guidance counsellor but I do know when you start to bring emotions into the workplace, it is never the same place.

The point to this article is this.

Don’t think you know. Because you don’t.

Leaders have no way of openly securing what the heck is going on and why certain things are happening that they don’t know the motives for. The above example is frivolous to some I have dealt with. In your organisation, if it has more than 30 staff, you are highly likely to have a thief in your organisation. It might be petty but a thief is a thief because they have no respect for work or you frankly.

Employee theft has gone up 19% recently (Zurich Insurance), and staff on your teams know who is doing it. How are you going to put a stop to it? You can download our ACAS written documents (we’re uploading them currently so keep checking because there are over 50 to upload and they’re all free) to help you with HR and discipline processes and you can use our Encrypted and anonymous messaging platform to let your team tell you what’s going on. Only when you provide an anonymous way for your staff to inform you will you really start to understand what’s going on. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.

We can then help you secure the evidence to help you put a stop to wrongdoing in your organisation. Just contact us to see how we can help you root out wrongdoing.

Author Bio.

Andy Parr is a career detective and anti-money laundering expert. He served in the UK, Afghanistan and the Cayman Islands. He welcomes critical thought leadership and commentary to expand his own ability and advance the subject matter. Andy now leads HX5 Encrypted to help organisations get to the groundtruth in their organisation. Andy has led on every type of criminality you can think of. From murder to white collar crime and everything inbetween. Contact him to see how HX5 can help you.

Read all of Andy’s Posts here.