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Why do we tolerate invisible and unaccountable leadership?

Source | LinkedIn : By Glenn Elliott

Right now I’m doing better than average in the leadership league table. I’ve got a 99% “Approve of CEO” rating on Glassdoor from 96 reviews and people keep telling me that I’m a good leader and they wish their CEO was more like me. 

But what am I doing thats so special? Am I giving everyone pay rises? (No- sorry.) Am I making work an easy and relaxing place? (Afraid not – I run am ambitious company with tough targets.) Am I just riding the crest of a wave because our company is doing everything right? (No again – I run a successful business but we have good days and bad days just like everyone else so that’s not it.)

No, it’s because I’m working hard on being visible and accountable. And surprisingly, no-one expects it.

The bar we seem to have on accountable leadership is really low. So when I do what I think should be normal it really amazes people. 

There are three things I’ve done in the last couple of months that seem to have really resonated.

  1. At our April staff conference I was interviewed on stage with questions submitted by staff and I answered them honestly without preparation or seeing the questions in advance.

    I can’t tell you how much goodwill this generated. 

    In the two weeks running up to the staff conference we asked everyone at Reward Gateway to submit questions for me to answer. We’d had a tough couple of weeks internally –  we’d withdrawn our most popular employee benefit from staff in the UK and we’d announced a restructuring for sales and service too, disrupting lots of reporting lines. 

    Liam Jones, one of our writers, was my interviewer and he expected to brief me on the questions in advance. But I said no.

    If you’re running a business honestly and with integrity you shouldn’t need to prep or be warned for questions from staff. If you’ve nothing to hide, there’s nothing to rehearse.

    I felt this was fine and straightforward but in the hours leading up to the event I realized from comments everyone was making that it was a bigger deal to everyone else than it was to me. People were genuinely amazed that I would put myself on the spot. I think some were actually worried about it.

    But it was fine, I answered every question honestly and in detail and those I didn’t know the answer to I said we’d find out and publish the answers online. No sweat.

    After, in the break, so many people told me how great it was that I did that and how unexpected it was. But it was easy, and it makes me wonder how many CEOs and leaders are hiding from their people?

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