Leaders nurture and invest

Recently I shared a “People Measurement’ and leadership conversation with Carlos Santayana, Owner and Principal at Santayana Group, and a prior Training and Leadership VP at Citi Group. I felt power and wisdom in his words and wanted to share them with you. With his approval I am publishing parts of our conversation below.

The selection and promotion of managers who invest in their teams and nurture excellence is a key transformative strategy.

• Leadership can create an atmosphere where subordinates are treated as valued partners and encouraged to think deeply and contribute ideas that increase profit, stakeholder well being and long term sustainability.

• We often do what is rewarded and avoid what is punished.

• When you reward and recognize that creativity and intellectual risk taking, it flourishes.

In other environments, leaders, out of fear, selfishness and insecurity, require team members to be as invisible and silent as possible. Instead of being held up for accomplishments, employees contribute at the imperilment of their jobs. Most companies are at neither extreme but rather a mix of the above two scenarios.

Lori: Would organizations be open to measuring “investing in their teams and nurturing excellence?” Or would it be sabotaged out of fear/control?

Carlos: Measurement criteria already exists and is part of the informal reputation of each manager.
One SVP I worked for had promoted several of his subordinates to his level in the organization at each stage in his career. I was fortunate to report to him because I experienced more growth in 18 months than I had had in the previous 10 years.

“Everyone” knew this (except for the CEO, it seems). He was often ranked first in performance and first in employee satisfaction but lost out in a key promotion to what I can only describe as a predator.

This other manager terrified and burnt out his people and he achieved numbers that were close to my supervisors. He was also seen as a stronger manager by senior management who did not know what metrics to use.

We do not need to measure, we need to draw attention to certain measure such as how many subordinates get promoted for example or what kind of turnover they have.

Informal reputations are often used for key decisions but our criteria seems to be short term numbers rather than developing bench strength for a sustainable enterprise. The joke at one place I worked was that Senior Management’s idea of long term planning was “wetting the bed to warm up”.

This was not far from the truth and the reason they went with an approach that got quick results rather than real improvements.

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