To be or not to be, that is the question – William Shakespeare
For many he is an urban legend, for others he is a great hoax. Regardless of your beliefs, Bigfoot enthusiasts have been on the hunt for a long time. In the interest of full disclosure I will confess I’ve become addicted to the Animal Planet show Finding Bigfoot. I will also confess that while I find the show entertaining I remain a skeptic. However, I would welcome an invitation from Bobo and the gang to go ‘Squatchin’.
After watching many episodes of Finding Bigfoot it didn’t take long to connect the dots and draw parallels between the characteristics of Bigfoot out in the wild and some leaders in their offices. Just as some people swear that Bigfoot exists, many people in their organizations make the same claim about their leader – always lurking in the shadows somewhere ,but, can we really be sure?
In Inc. magazine earlier this year, Dino Signore (http://ow.ly/CtgU0 ) wrote about the importance and the challenges leaders face in building relationships and being connected to their people. Clearly, if you want to engage your employees it will take hard work effort on your part.
Signore cites Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” survey in which seventy percent of American workers say they are disengaged. What does that mean for you as a leader? In short, it means that you are going to have to come out from the shadows and step up your leadership game. Do you have the leadership characteristics of Bigfoot? Let’s find out.
Your people make wild claims about your leadership, but they have little evidence
In order to be a leader that is connected, engaged, and involved in what’s going on you have to be seen. Your people will gain confidence in you as a leader when you lead from the front, not when you are lurking in the shadows. If your credentials as a leader are based upon rumors and sightings then you have lost their trust. If in the eyes of your people you are a fictional character then you are nothing more than a fictional leader.
Your people are perpetually one step behind you, where are you?
In Finding Bigfoot the dedicated team always seems to be one step behind their prey. Here’s the rub – people willingly follow a strong and confident leader. But when your people are reduced to chasing after you and are always one step behind you then frustration builds. When that happens morale begins sink and the Gallup poll on engagement becomes all too real. Your people want a leader who is with them-not evasive, and one they can trust with their own eyes. If you are disengaged as a leader your people will eventually dismiss you as a hoax.
Your people risk a lot to believe in you, have you let them down?
One of the regular features of Finding Bigfoot is a town hall meeting to hear the claims of people who say they’ve had a Bigfoot encounter. It’s up to the team to investigate and separate fact from fiction, or something like that. Be it the investigative team or the people making the claim, they put their reputations on the line by expressing a belief in what many claim to be a fraud. Likewise, your people risk a lot by believing in you as a leader. It’s one thing to believe in your people- that’s important, but you must respect them enough by giving them a reason to buy-in to your leadership and believe in you. Having the respect and trust of your people is a sacred honor, don’t let them down.
Dispelling the Bigfoot leadership myth
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” says John Maxwell. Going forward and solidifying your leadership credentials will happen when you take corporate culture seriously, build relationships with your people, and make trust the focal point of your leadership. Your leadership does not have to be subjected to the status of an urban myth or legend. It’s time to come out from the shadows and lead with purpose.
What do you say?
© 2014 Doug Dickerson