Things our bosses do that make us stupid (part 4 of 6) – ignoring strategy

One of the most critical roles of leadership is to unleash the intelligence of the organization – to increase the collective IQ – to allow people to use that magnificent brain that we all have. And yet, so many bosses do things that have the opposite effect.

This is the fourth in a series of 6 on this topic, but please know that I had to stop myself at 6, as there are probably 100 things I could name. Let us know your story of stupidity.

We all become stupid when we only work on today’s work. The boss who ignores strategic and systemic issues in a headlong rush to force completion of short-term tactical work is a person who lowers the collective and individual IQs of their organizations.

When we are always working today on today’s stuff, we turn off the parts of our brain that think about “what might be possible.” We settle. We start to measure our success through the murky lens of such statements as “I got through the day” or “I put out a dozen fires” or “I was a hero to a dozen people today, and it’s a damn good thing I’m here to solve problems.”

The problem is that we encourage heroic behavior in our organizations – “making the best of things” rather than “making things better.” Many of our bosses slap our backs and smile when we’ve survived the day, rather than asking us to think about why it took such a heroic effort to get the work done.

A good leader is a systems and strategy person. They look for cause and effect, and they question everything. And they ask us every day to do the same. They reward us for having new ideas, even if sometimes these ideas are crap. They ask us to think like real business-people rather than cogs in a machine.

When we are led to focus on the tactical, our intellect becomes narrow and limited. We become just a little bit stupid. And while it might not be natural for human beings to look through the lens of systems and strategy, that’s all the more reason we need bosses who help us to create that longer-term view.

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Sarah Thomson

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