Jack was a boss who loved to let his leadership team tussle with issues and come to him when they had solved the problem. Often this worked. However when the team came to a stand still, when they had heels dug in and no solutions in site they would ask for his input.
This is when there were way too many frustrations. It was the biggest paradox at work. They loved it when he left them alone and hated it when they asked for his help and he would shrug and say You take care of it. That's what I'm paying you for.
The question became And what is Jack being paid to do? His champions would say That's just the way he is, real laid back and willing to wait for solutions. Its a good thing.
Others would judge and notice that he was hesitant to state his position. They said he would cough and do the old hem-and-haw waiting for someone else to jump in and come up with the answers. hes afraid to commit they said and no wonder, Jack was in his early 50s with a long term live in girlfriend and always said he saw no reason for marriage.
And then there were those who brushed him off as an avoider, the gotta go guy who would always have an excuse, a forgotten appointment, that would get him out of any meeting where the tension was building. He hates conflict, cant handle a dispute, what a wimp. was the comment.
The big question was always What is he thinking? The next question was How did he get to be the boss? The final question was How long will he last?
Fast forward one year. Jack was still the boss. Sadly, most of his team had either requested (translate that begged) to be positioned elsewhere in the organization, and many others had gone to greener pastures in other organizations.
Sales were sagging even though the economy in their industry was strong. Jack was having pretty sour meetings with his boss and yet, every time the going got rough he managed to squirrel himself away from the danger zone.
Until, it all collapsed. His long term girlfriend tired of the hesitation moved out; got her a guy who would commit and was getting married. His 360 survey was awful. He had a choice. Get some coaching or his tenure would be short lived.
Jack went to coaching reluctantly. He also joined a leadership development program that spent time looking at how home and work connected. Here is where he had an uncomfortable yet eye opening revelation.
His laid back manner was a front for the fear he had about being told he was wrong, of getting yelled at the way he had gotten talked, no screamed at as a kid.
The coaching and leadership program were his first journey into self awareness. Initially he was defensive, yet as time went on he began to see that the super cool, let them figure it out themselves was the shield he carried with him to not be in the line of fire.
The good news was when he put some skin in the game of forging his own life he was able to turn his avoider self into its healthy opposite, the initiator. Once he learned to stay in the fray, ask questions and even when necessary, disagree, the world did not come to an end. In fact all the specific skills that got him to the boss position paid off.
Jack learned that technical and sales skills don't keep a boss in a leadership position for very long. The people part, emotional intelligence, pattern awareness, and a willingness to look at your own behavior rather than running from it, are what keep key players in the game.
Best part, he found himself a partner, a woman with three children, he married her and created an instant family. Life can get better when you stop running from your fears.