Disconnected Leadership: How to align senior management and front line leaders

Home » Disconnected Leadership: How to align senior management and front line leaders

“My boss needs to take this course.” This is what we hear from supervisors and team leaders who take our front line leadership course.

On the other side of the equation I hear the frustrations of senior executives as they question why the rest of the organization doesn’t “get with the program” in terms of executing the strategies and plans they develop.

The fact is that the leaders at the senior and front line levels are both trying to do what is best. They just aren’t synchronized. And the time and energy wasted because of the confusion is holding the organization back from its full potential. In this LeaderFeeder I’ll share some ideas on how to get alignment to achieve consistent, capable leadership at every level.

Every year, immediately following Labor Day, our phone rings off the hook to line up leadership training for the fall. This year we have already received bookings for at least 60% of available capacity because of a large project we were awarded. In order to avoid disappointment, please contact us now to arrange for dates in the fall.

Have a great week!

Disconnected Leadership

Senior management crafts the strategies and front line leaders help execute them, right? In reality, both levels of leadership are frustrated. The senior leaders wonder why there is so much resistance to implementing new initiatives. Front line leaders wonder why managers appear so disconnected from the operational challenges faced at the front line.

The goal is to have a consistent and capable leadership team from top to bottom. Here are a few ideas to bring both sides together:

For Senior Managers/Executives

  • Connect the Dots: Explain the link between the high level strategies and the front line. Don’t expect front line leaders and staff to understand terminology and the cause and effect relationships between their day to day action and the big picture. (For the record, it is safe to say that many senior leaders are also fuzzy on the connection so it helps them too.)
  • Lead by Example: Lead like you want your front line leaders to lead. Focus on positives, spend time with your direct reports, explain what you want and why it’s important and be approachable, friendly and professional. Consider getting some training or coaching to improve your people leadership skills and approach.
  • Focus on Values: Like a continuous drum beat, help the organization make sense of complexity by repeating the values. This helps everyone align what might first appear as confusing priorities into a set of cohesive actions.
  • Build a Coaching Culture: Be open to coaching yourself and create an environment where ego doesn’t build silos or walls between departments or divisions. Realize that internal competition can be a distraction from competing against external competitors and taking care of customers.

For Front Line Leaders

  • Be a Good Filter: Realize that your job is to act as a filter – taking management direction and implementing it with employees and taking employee feedback and passing it along to management constructively.
  • Avoid Us versus Them: Take responsibility for your own leadership role and stop blaming others in the organization. It makes you appear week with your employees and doesn’t get things done. Be a positive advocate for organizational initiatives.
  • Manage Your Boss: Use the same behavior modification strategies you learn in front line leadership training to help your boss develop his or her skills.
  • Lead Change: Be open to change yourself and help your team adjust to change. Recognize that there is always room to improve.

Watch the Leadership Video

By looking for the symptoms that your leadership team is disconnected from each other and building a bridge between levels, you can reduce stress and frustration and redirect your energies to advancing the organization towards its goals.