Byron's Babbles

Seagull Management

This week’s Simple Truth #5, The Key To Developing People Is To Catch Them Doing Something Right, in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley really resonated with me. Last week I had made the comment that right now everyone seems to be looking over their shoulder waiting for someone to catch them doing something wrong, saying something wrong, or making some kind of mistake. My experience with those kind of cultures of fear of making mistakes is that we are going to, you guessed it, make mistakes. So, how do we change this? It is actually pretty easy, shift to “…catching people doing things right and praising them” (Blanchard & Conley, 2022, p. 19). They tell us it really is common sense.

“Seagull management, where managers set goals with people and then disappear until something else goes wrong. Then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody, and fly out.”

Blanchard & Conley, 2022. Simple Truths of Leadership. p. 19.

But really, how do you change that? I loved the term Blanchard used to describe how we are missing the mark. He called it “seagull management.” I am sure after many of you read the quote above defining seagull management you were saying, “Yes! I have totally experienced this.” It may be that person that only texts, calls, or emails when something is wrong or it is perceived we’ve made a mistake. I’ll also relate this to society in general right now to the people who only post mistakes or quote people on social media who have misspoke (not really intending to say what they said). Again, my experience has been that when we are in environments like that we tend to make more mistakes.

We are all going to make mistakes. Remember, the only people who don’t are the ones not doing anything (sometimes the seagulls). So, let’s use the common sense practices from Blanchard and Conley and catch people doing great things, praise them and “Make it clear you have confidence in them and support their future success” (p. 19). Key word there is “support.”


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