Are you the Wizard of Oz? The man behind the curtain? Would you know?

You wouldn’t think there would be a leadership lesson in The Wizard of Oz but watching it the other day I was reminded of a senior leader, at a previous company, that was rarely seen or heard from but his presence was felt everywhere.  His direct reports routinely used his name at will to bully people into doing what they wanted.  Rarely did anyone beyond a direct report understand what the department strategy was – it was all on a “need to know” basis.

I’m not sure if this leader knew about the behavior or even cared, he was rarely seen outside of the company headquarters so it was pretty easy for people to believe the latest story that trickled down. The lack of visibility, blatant bullying and overall negative environment contributed to some severely dysfunctional behavior that rarely netted a positive result for his team but caused a lot of work for the employee relations team.

Are you the Wizard of Oz? The man behind the curtain?

Regardless of your level in the organization, being a visible and transparent leader who brings out the best in their team is vital to a company’s success.  How do you know if you are being visible and transparent? How do you know if you are contributing to or creating a negative environment?  Here are a couple questions to ask:

  1. Do people know what you look like? Or are you the man behind the curtain dictating through smoke and mirrors? How do your direct reports communicate strategy/projects/plans that you set? Are they invoking fear of your name to get things done? Would you know if they were?
  2. Do people throughout your team know your strategy? Do they know how this fits into the larger company strategy? This should not be a secret.  When people don’t understand or are not told the reasons/strategy behind company decisions, the rumor mill takes over.  Trust me these are not fun places to work…lots of hush/hush gossip, closed doors, and limited productivity. 
  3. Under these circumstances it can be very difficult to get buy-in on your projects, regardless how cutting edge they are.  This doesn’t mean that people won’t do what you tell them to but it does mean the effort they put in will be lackluster.  When was the last time you put forth your best effort for the office tyrant?

I am hopeful you read through the above and did not recognize yourself but sometimes we find ourselves isolated whether we realize it or not.  It can be difficult to get out of the office, we make excuses sighting all the typical stuff that takes up the day but being a visible and transparent leader should be just as important.

In my next piece for Performance I Create, I will talk about some ways to make yourself more visible and clearly communicate with your team.  Look for my next post in February!

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Melissa Fairman

Melissa Fairman is the author of the blog HR Remix and has five years experience working in HR. She's super awesome and has an MBA with an HR concentration from Baldwin Wallace College and a PHR certification from the HRCI institute. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter at @HRRemix.

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