Nature abhors a vacuum. When something is left empty of a critical piece for life something will fill it.
Take performance conversations with your people as an example:
- When we tell them nothing – they assume they are doing great.
- When we don’t explain why a leadership change happened – the small talk around the office will create a reason. It will become the truth, and everyone except the person involved in the change will likely hear it.
- When you wait two weeks to talk to someone about unproductive behavior it becomes more difficult because that action has already been filed away as ‘successful’ because the work is done and no feedback indicated it was not perfect.
A gift of leadership is creating a vacuum so something positive can happen:
- You share your biggest issue with your team and you create a vacuum by saying I do not know how to fix this, What do you think?
- You share a vision with your team that outlines dividing up Sales and Marketing when your growth exceeds $xM in sales in 12-18 months. People begin to lay the foundation for processes that need to be in place to support that change and the current leader will start thinking about which role they will want to stay in. People then will start to tell you who they think should be elevated to a leadership role.
- Monthly financials are shared, and in it you point out that a $100K gap exists in profitability that needs to be closed. Anyone have any ideas? Your top people will bring all the ideas you need.
In my book, People-Centered Performance, I hit this several different ways, and one is my observation that OBN leaders are afraid if they tell the truth, others will leave. If you make a change. telling the person who received the role Why? is only part of the issue. Telling the people who did not get the role Why Not? (which creates a vacuum – gap in performance) helps them understand what they need to work on to close the gap. The right people will appreciate the honesty and work to get better or to shift to an area where they can be more successful and impactful.
Sometimes those conversations are hard, which is why many of your competitors (the other leaders wanting your talent) don’t do them well. You position yourself to win the war by telling the truth in a way that creates a vacuum for people, and you follow-up to support those who want to fill it.
What vacuums are you creating today?