One of the most often identified roles of a leader is that of barrier buster. Leaders get into trouble when they fall into a pattern of doing the jobs of the people who report to them rather than creating an environment that allows the right people to do the right things. Successful leaders are eager to help their people find ways to be productive by coaching them appropriately. They let their teams know that if they encounter a barrier that is beyond their ability to tackle, the leader expects that the team will ask for help. That is the moment when leaders need to roll up their sleeves and get to work on behalf of the team.
But what happens when the leadership team is the barrier? Asking What does our leadership team do that gets in the way of you doing your job? requires persistence and courage.
Persistence because the first time you ask this question, you are most likely to be answered with a quick "nothing" or "they’re doing okay" response. Don’t miss the internal dialogue that will undoubtedly be running through the answerer’s mind. "What kind of a fool does this person take me for? Like I’m going to answer this question!" And honestly, can you blame them for thinking that? So, ask the question, but don’t expect quality answers the first time around. The more you ask other questions and handle the answers appropriately, the more likely it is that when you ask this question again, you will get more truthful answers.
Courage because the responses you get might be painful to hear. It has been my experience while working with leaders that the farther up you are in the hierarchy, the less likely you are to receive an accurate picture of the organization’s day-to-day workings.
Unless, of course, you’ve been asking questions long enough to be trusted. You may hear things about your team’s behavior and maybe even about your own behavior that will require some soul-searching and change on your part. Don’t ask this question if you’re not ready to hear and act on the answers. By the way, if you’re not ready to act–get ready fast!