How many times have you heard your hierarchical ‘superiors’* say “I’m right behind you” when you explain what you want to do/ are doing and ask for their support?
Is this where you want them?!
How many times have you said it to your ‘subordinates’*?
The following quote from Deming relates to management’s (obvious) stated desires to improve ‘their’ organisation:
It is not enough that top management commit themselves to quality and productivity. They must know what it is that they are committed to – that is, what they must do. These obligations cannot be delegated. Support is not enough: action is required…
…A quality program for an [organisation], launched by ceremonies with a speech by the [sponsor], raising of flags, beating of drums, badges, all with heavy applause, is a delusion and a snare.”
It’s not about support. In fact, as Deming’s last words above allude to, such support is often worse than none at all. It can create false expectations, cause misreporting and distortion, eventual disillusionment and witch hunts for ‘blame’…causing immeasurable damage.
I don’t want my ‘leader(s)’ behind me. In fact, I don’t want them in front of me, (heroically) telling me what to do. I want them with me, where we are working in partnership towards the purpose of the system.
But what about if ‘the leader’ is busy?
Well then, it can’t be that important then can it.
I love the words of William E Conway on this “…and if you can’t come, send nobody.”
Deming expanded on this by saying “In other words, if you don’t have time to do your job, there is not much that I can do for you.”
* …just in case you hadn’t worked it out: I hate the words ‘superiors’ and ‘subordinates’. I also hate the concept of a ‘boss’ and what it implies….I see all of us simply as people with roles to play within a system, for the overall good of our customers in respect of the purpose of the system. One of THE traits of a great leader is humility, such that people never feel like the leader thinks that they are anything more than them.