HR Remix Leadership

Are You The Man (or Woman) Behind The Curtain?

Wizard of Oz Spoiler Alert!

The Wizard of Oz is a mysterious and terrifying leader. Sitting atop his castle, he appears to his subjects as a frightening, disembodied head. Only after Dorothy and her motley crew visit, do we realize that the Wizard is actually just a short little man behind a curtain!

Unfortunately, the Wizard’s relationship with his people is not all that different from many of the interactions that employees have with leaders at their offices.

At one company I worked at, “Ethan” was the man behind the curtain.

Ethan had a dedicated group of minions who spread their terror through dictates such as proper formatting which was nothing as simple as MLA or APA style, but a blend of the two. My personal favorite was the statement: “Ethan wants it done this way” which really meant “shut the f*** up and don’t question me.”

I Never Met Ethan

I never met Ethan, so, I can’t say if his terrible reputation was earned or intentional. However, in the many years I worked at the company I never saw him visit.  As a result, it was easy for people to believe the latest rumors. The lack of visibility and overall negative environment contributed to a dysfunctional team that rarely netted a positive result for his team but caused a lot of work for the HR team.

Are You’re the Man (or Woman) Behind The Curtain?

Being a visible and transparent leader is a requirement today. Employees of all ages and backgrounds are demanding transparency and accountability from their leaders. To figure out if you are a transparent leader or the man behind the curtain, ask yourself a couple questions:

  • 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? Do they use fear of your name to get things done? Would you know if they were?
  • Day-to-day business is not top secret. People throughout your organization, and this gets harder the more layers you oversee, should understand how their work effects the company.
  • Talk with people outside your direct reports. Sometimes these are called skip level meetings, other times, it’s as simple as buying lunch for people and seeing where the conversation takes you.

I hope you read through the above and did not recognize yourself.  If you aren’t sure, get out of the office!  We are way too comfortable using our day-to-day work as a convenient excuse to stay in our bubble.

*This post original appeared on PerformanceICreate and has been edited

You Win With People 

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