I was recently speaking with a small group of mid-level managers in an organization.
When I asked about the agency's leadership philosophy my question was met with a pause and looks of confusion.
I was told that there really wasn't one set philosophy or way of leading, that each supervisor's approach was different.
Some supervisors were more laid back, some encouraged employee autonomy, while others were more controlling. In short, an employee's experience within the organization varied greatly depending upon the supervisor with whom they worked.
You may be nodding your head in agreement, thinking this sounds like the typical work environment. While this may be typical, it's not healthy or ideal.
Of course each manager is going to have their own personality - I wouldn't advocate for a team of manager minions. There is a difference, however, between personality or style and approach. Each organization or team should have a consistent and unified leadership philosophy. An employee's experience within an organization shouldn't vary drastically based upon their assigned supervisor.
Compare it to a company's philosophy toward customer service. Each employee will bring his/her own unique personality to the customer interaction, but the overall spirit or tone of customer service should be consistent. You wouldn't expect (or accept) that one customer's experience would be significantly better or worse than the next. As the leader, you would convey a cohesive message and approach to customer service to your team, and expect that all customers would have a similar, positive experience. The same should be expected for how managers work with the employees on their teams.
It is the responsibility of agency leaders to set the tone of leadership - to cultivate a shared understanding of what effective and positive leadership looks like within the organization. Take the time to develop guiding principles and identify your leadership philosophy. What are your core values as leaders? How do you believe all employees should be treated? How should leaders handle issues when they arise? How will you celebrate the wins? A shared philosophy will provide a crucial measure of support for your leaders and promote a more positive work environment for all of your staff.