As someone who works at a leadership training company, I started to think about leadership mistakes on the football field and how managers in the workplace often make these same mistakes: A seasoned coach was letting a rookie make important decisions, and it ended the season for his team. Almost any manager in an organization would say that having independent and strong employees is a plus—but how much independence is too much? Here are three ways you can tell that your employees are no longer respecting your leadership and are, in fact, calling the shots:
1. You hear after the fact about projects or campaigns that have been completed. Someone congratulates you on a job well done … and you have no idea what they are talking about. While it may seem fine when your team achieves success, what happens when suddenly you’re responsible for a mistake that you were not even aware of as a possibility?
2. Your team is often delayed on tasks and missing deadlines. Your team is missing more and more deadlines, and major projects are uncompleted. Team members claim they are too busy, but you are not sure what is consuming so much of their time. Their busy-ness could be a quiet refusal to do the work that you have assigned, in order to make room for them to take on projects they themselves want to implement.
3. You hear through the grapevine that your employees went over your head for approval. An employee pitches you an idea that does not fit within your budget and strategy. You ask her to make necessary changes or scrap it all together. Later you come to find out that she just went to your boss to seek approval: your boss came to you to inquire about it—and that reflected poorly on your entire department.
Ultimately, letting employees run the show is going to have a negative impact on you, your department, and your company. Why? When an employee makes a huge error, he may be responsible, but you are going to be the one answering questions from upper-level management. As manager, you should have the strategy and vision in your sights at all times and communicate them downward. Employees work to execute the vision, and from that level it can be really easy to see only the short-term impact of projects and decisions—and forget about the long term strategy. When you let your employees believe that they can call all the shots, the chances of costly mistakes and long-term failure are much higher.