“You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”
- Harry (When Harry Met Sally)
She doesn’t think she’s high-maintenance. After all, she’s just trying to do her job. In the meantime, eyes roll, stories are shared, the team loses productive time catering to her needs. It’s not all her fault, “that’s the way she likes it” has morphed into “that’s how she must have it.” It works, so she continues to let them cater. The team doesn’t seem to mind, “oh it’s no big deal.” “Of course I understand.” “You have so much on your plate…” And more requirements get added to the list.
We’ve all got a bit of high-maintenance within us.
High Maintenance Leaders…
- don’t mean to be
- “pose” just in case someone wants to take a picture
- work to be “liked” above all else
- have a different focus goal for every day of the year
- distribute every leadership book they read as “personal development” assignments
- relentlessly pester the team about how they can help you succeed.
- have a motivational saying for every situation
- won’t take “no” for an answer, even when “no” IS the answer.
- demand the team provide alternatives with justification, but have no intent to accept any solution different from their own
- never hear the truth
- have food brought to them on a regular basis.
- demand fancy updates and complicated Powerpoints, even when their team is slammed with work
- triple book their calendar, as a line forms outside their office
- want the Powerpoints to match their eyes (true story)
Lower Your Maintenance Threshold
Check for signs of high-maintenance in your leadership. Determine what your teams think you “need” and why. If it feels high-maintenance, it is.
- Start with helpful. Make your team’s job easier.
- Talk about what you really need and why.
- Ask what else they think you need. Scratch a bunch off their list.
- Resist the urge to cater to ridiculous needs for those above. Your team is watching, and think you want such treatment too.
- Find ways to meet your “maintenance needs” outside of work (hire folks to help.)
What would you add?
A special thanks to the Lead Change (with a special shout-out to John E. Smith, and Harvard Business Review communities for jump-starting this conversation.