Leaders can find themselves spending less time leading their organisations, more time managing day-to-day issues. We call this ‘Drop Down Management’ – because it’s not really leading, at all.
The tell-tale signs of Drop-Down Management are: doing other people’s jobs, instead of your own; focusing on tactics, not strategy; fixing bits and pieces, instead of making fundamental changes; and, instead of engaging and motivating people, just telling them to do stuff – or, worse – doing it all yourself.
It’s like the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a beautiful young man who caught a glimpse of his reflection in a pond and instantly fell in love with it. He lay down gazing at himself and did so till he died. According to the myth he lives on in the Underworld, still gazing lovingly at his own reflection. The distractions that force leaders to become drop-down managers means organisations get stuck endlessly doing the same stuff, making the same mistakes, gazing at their own reflections.
One of the big solutions to this kind of distraction is: think more like the Queen. Nobody can accuse Her Majesty of not being well-advised, predominantly by the Privy Council and The Order of Merit. The purpose of these two bodies is to give her majesty perspective – to bring the ideas of individual leaders from different walks of life to the questions and issues she faces. She listens, privately and in the strictest confidence to on the one hand the artist David Hockney, and on the other the former Speaker of the House Betty Boothroyd.
The result? The Queen and the royal family have never been more sure-footed.
One sure-fire way to help you to get out of Drop-Down Management is to follow Her Maj – get trustworthy, expert outside perspective on what you are doing. It could be one person or many – it really doesn’t matter. The only rule is those outsiders must neither be nodding dogs that agree with everything you say nor your mates from a similar business. Having your own Privy Council or Order of Merit to give you objective, private perspectives on your leadership and your organisation is a proven, trusted way to lead better in tougher times.
To put it bluntly: Think like the Queen. Get a Coach.