Leadership and Bananas: A Day in the Life Sunday

I heart Barnes and Noble. I like the vibe of the store, the look and feel of the Nook and Starbucks in the back corner. Outside of Barnes and Noble I'd easily pass up Starbucks for Caribou Coffee but once inside the bookstore, I can't stay away.

After a quick scan of the Moleskine rack and the babysitting guides, the kid and I headed to the coffee counter. Cappuccino for me and a mango banana smoothie for her. I drank mine but she didn't finish hers. She didn't really like it and decided she wasn't going to order banana in her smoothies anymore.  She likes mango and she likes banana but the banana flavor in a smoothie "dumbs it down," she said

Dumb it down? Where did she hear that? It's not exactly how I would have described the flavor combination but I knew exactly what she meant.

I've bristled at dumb it down comments from leaders and may have even channeled Frank Roche as I cautioned HR staff from doing so in  our HR communications - but it's not a phrase I use regularly.

Nonetheless, with both this phrase and interactions between leaders and followers on my mind today, I have to wonder how leaders can think so little of their staff - or conversely, so much of themselves.

The Lead Change Group recently posted an article, "Leadership Style: Blinders, Beacon, or Both?" In it, the author asks leaders a number of thought-provoking questions that include:

  • When there's a problem in the office, do you create a new policy to handle it? Or, do you work with others to figure out the root cause and fix that?
  • Does your firm want employees to provide feedback yet shoot the messenger?
  • Is the messiness of innovation embraced, recognizing that failures to happen? Or, is innovation part of your mission statement yet failures are counted and are part of performance reviews as a negative?

Leaders, grab yourself a smoothie, ponder the questions and answer this one question for me: are you the top dog . . . or the top banana?

Photo credit iStockPhoto