The Trap of the Out-of-Sight Leader

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 13, 2020

Invisible Leaders Can’t Help Companies Scale Up

Some businesses have highly visible and highly engaged leaders. In other businesses, the leader is sequestered and isolated from his or her employees. He or she is rarely seen outside of the executive suite. But it’s extremely difficult for an invisible or remote leader to lead a company in scale-up efforts.

Involved but Not Invasive

We’ve all known—or at least heard about—leaders who get far too involved in the daily details of their businesses. What I’m talking about here is not “getting down in the weeds” and trying to do someone else’s job for them. That kind of involvement doesn’t aid the scaling-up process. For one thing, the employee hopefully, knows how to do his or her specific task better than the CEO. Beyond that, if the CEO is focused on tactical tasks, he or she isn’t going to have the time or energy to devote to the critical tasks of vision and strategy. The leader needs to be involved, but not in an invasive way.

Leadership Involvement Impacts Culture

Having an involved leader can have a powerful positive impact on the company’s culture and the attitude of the employees. Let me give you an example from a business you might not think of as a “growth-oriented” business. Keep in mind, however, that for virtually any business, if you’re not growing, you’re probably slowing.

What’s Up, Doc?

A colleague recently told me about a successful medical office that was having a bit of a culture crisis. The lead physician (and owner) became aware of the problem because he met regularly with the business manager to review the business. It became clear to the doctor that something was up. Employees seemed a little down and discouraged—and that kind of attitude was working its way into the attitude of the patients (“customers” if you will).

The physician had plenty to do each day. In addition to seeing patients, staying current on new medical developments, and overseeing the business, he had tons of paperwork (more than ever because of new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) requirements. Still, he recognized the importance of reaching out to his staff.

So, this doctor made a point to walk through the office after all patients had been seen, but before employees had left for the day. When they’d had a good day, he would congratulate them on the good work they’d done and thank the staff. When they’d had a tough day, he’d acknowledge that fact—and again thank them for their efforts. Then he’d tell them that they would work together to make the next day better.

It didn’t take a lot of time to connect with all of the employees—but it was an intentional act that he did consistently. He began to notice an improvement in morale—and the employees even noticed an improvement in the disposition of the patients. That’s critical because few businesses rely more heavily on word of mouth recommendation than doctor’s offices.

What if You’re Not a “Cheerleader”?

Perhaps you don’t see yourself as the type of person who runs around rallying the troops. That’s not the point. This particular doctor isn’t a cheerleader, either. Still, his staff responded very favorably to the fact that he was aware of what they were going through (daily) and that he communicated his awareness and concern for them. Being visible and “involved” made a huge difference.

Disengaged leadership (even if it’s only a perception) is a trap for any scaling company. There are other traps you need to be aware of that can hinder your attempts to scale up your company. That’s why I wrote, Avoiding the Growth Traps. This free eBook can help you identify—and avoid—many of the common mistakes that scaling businesses face. I invite you to check it out for yourself.




Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay