Monkey in the Middle…of the Tree

Do you lead like you’re in a tree of monkeys?   

If you’re a leader or mid-level manager (360° leader), don’t lead like you’re in a tree of monkeys as Simon Sinek talks about in his book Start With Why.  Where the leaders at the top look down and see nothing but smiles, but the people at the bottom look up only to see a bunch of monkey butts.  

Treat your team like your most important asset (after all they are) and they will reciprocate!  He’s one thing you can do that costs nothing and will go leaps and bounds towards building a positive culture.

Encourage candor in your workplace!  Open 360° communication results in higher levels of trust, which in turn results in better engagement and organizational health! 

A good friend of mine and former colleague who ran the production plant in my former business often compares mid-level management to being a “monkey in the middle”.  It’s a constant struggle between leading and keeping your team happily engaged while getting the best out of your people and keeping the top leaders or owners happy.  

Here’s the simple key to this far too common problem, and I’ve heard him talk about it numerous times – COMMUNICATION – lots of communication.  I’m not talking about mushroom communication here either…you know, where you keep them in the dark and feed them crap.  Trust me, we did lot’s of work in the mushroom industry in my previous business and that’s EXACTLY what mushrooms are fed (hope you can still enjoy your mushrooms)!  Here’s the difference!  Do that to mushrooms and they grow! Do that to the people you lead and they’ll eventually die…okay maybe a little extreme but they’ll probably leave.

It’s always better to err on the side of over communicating rather than under communicating.  This applies whether you’re the top leader of a mid-level leader passing what you know along.  I’ve sometimes struggled with this when not all the information is available yet.  But here’s the thing; whatever information your team doesn’t get or hear from you, they fill in the gaps themselves with often worse or at least false information.  Then, if you have a gossip problem too, they may talk about it amongst themselves causing even more damage.  If you’d just communicated what you DO know and tell them that when more information becomes available they’ll be the first to find out, they don’t feel left in the dark…and best of all, you didn’t feed them crap and they won’t view you as a monkey’s arse!

Jon Weening

Jon Weening

I have two passions that are the driving force behind my work; the first, to help business owners and leadership teams become their best and the second – a natural result of the first – to help create fulfilling and engaging work places for their teams.

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