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Bubble-Wrapped Leaders?

If you sit in an executive seat whether CEO, owner or manager, are YOU bubble-wrapped? What is a bubble -wrapped leader?

For starters, they are not very good leaders. Bubble-wrapping insulates from all the things going on around us. I’ve seen key executives isolate themselves by layers of policy, procedure, and occasionally people.

There is one company I’ve worked with that is so traditional in their hierarchy that various levels are not encouraged to talk more than one level up without being accompanied by someone from the level in between.

In an age of fast-moving decisions demanding such a structure creates huge roadblocks and inefficiency.

However, there are more subtle ways we find ourselves bubble wrapped as leaders.

Here are a few to think about.

The Intentional

First, the very intentional. Like the antiquated hierarchy I mentioned above, some leaders consciously choose to build walls to keep others away.

If you’re in sales you know about the “gatekeepers” who defend the castle around the big boss/decision-maker.

While this kind of defense might make sense from outside the company, why should you allow it inside?

The Cerebral

Next, there are the more cerebral ways to get bubble wrapped.

Tangling yourself in technical jargon and complexity can bubble wrap you and isolate you from others.

I’ve worked with some pretty smart people in my day. Being truly the smartest guy in the room can have an effect of separating you from others around you.

The Policy

Then there is the leader who immerses him or herself in dogmatic policy, practice or tradition. As soon as someone brings an idea that runs counter to the main way of thinking, the leader quickly rejects the person and the idea.

I see this often with companies that have long-standing legacies. If the company is more than 20 years old, likely you will find practices and traditions that insulate the leader’s thinking.

In companies like this, I frequently hear emerging managers complain that their chief instruction when taking on new duties was “don’t screw it up.”

The Fix

Have you created any of the above situations that insulate and isolate your thinking, like bubble wrap protects delicate packages?

Leaders need fresh ideas to compete and stay relevant in changing markets.

In addition, changing trends in workforce management require constant vigil for workable new ideas.

The best way to avoid isolation is to actively encourage discussion within your team. Surrounding yourself with talented people is great, but you need to be sure the right things are being discussed.

Walking around the floor, shop, or workroom helps too. Engaging with employees at all levels keeps your sensitivity to the real truth of what is going on sharp and tuned in.

Lastly, you might want to check your attitude. One of the biggest hurdles the average entrepreneur faces is pride. If your little idea takes flight and becomes something successful you might deserve feeling good about it.

There’s is, however, a big difference between a healthy appreciation for what you have and a huge ego.

I’ve seen far too many owners get themselves in big trouble by living behind their ego.

You can also listen to this message on my podcast channel here.