If you poll everyone you know in the workforce you will find that all managers aren’t good managers. Whether you’re a front line manager, mid-level manager, or in upper management the people you manage expect you to lead. I’m not talking about mentoring or coaching I’m talking about being the decision maker. The line “I’m not a leader, the only way I could get a promotion was to take a management position” is outdated.
I agree, in many organizations the only way to move up is to become a manager. The flip side of that coin is everyone doesn’t want to be a manager and everyone isn’t built to be one. By default people end up in management positions where they do not want to be, or aren’t built for. This post isn’t about analyzing the structure of companies, it is to highlight that many managers leave their employees in limbo.
Regardless of how managers got to their positions, employees expect managers to lead. Employees need leadership when things are good and when things are bad. Employees can recognize leadership qualities regardless of the situation. If a manager can lead their employees in the midst of a bad situation they will be an instant hit. Conversely, if a manager doesn’t lead when things are bad they create a leadership vacuum. Just because a position is occupied doesn’t mean there isn’t a vacuum. A vacuum occurs when the responsibilities of a position aren’t performed.
Not only do leadership vacuums occur when a manager isn’t leading they also occur when a management position is left open too long or there is a leadership merry-go-round. A leadership merry-go-round is when a management position is occupied by several people in a short period of time. When employees have more than one manager in a short period of time it’s difficult for them to get their bearings. The merry-go-round leaves employees in limbo because they don’t know what direction their department or team is going in. The lack of direction leaves them limbo.
One of the main results of a leadership vacuum is low morale. Morale goes down because the employees don’t trust the current decision maker(s). Employees blame the current decision maker(s) for everything that is going on. Low morale can lead to a decrease in production, a decrease in the quality of work, and could ultimately lead to employees leaving the company/organization. If managers lead they will not leave employees in limbo.