The subject of advocacy has come up a lot recently so I figured it must be the universe telling me to write about it. As a leader, advocating for your teams is crucial to keep that hard-earned trust you have been building. Through modeling this behavior, you create a culture that empowers individuals. This equips them to take on challenges with a creative mind and new thinking.
The need for advocacy has never been more important than now. As we come out of the pandemic, and folks are being asked to return to the workplace from their home offices, it is up to leaders to understand where there people are, and be their voice in the appropriate venues. Often the front line administrators are not privy to these discussions so they need to know they have someone to speak on their behalf.
I had an example present itself to me at work recently where an email went out from a department chair to their administrators which indicated that they WILL be returning to the office on April 15th as long as they had been vaccinated. Remember the informal network of admins that gets things done from my first blog? Well they got ahold of this information and were understandably upset at the prospect. I assured them that I had no plans to rearrange the current work modalities of our unit, and that the Dean was aware of this as well. A collective “Whew” was exhaled.
First, this email mandate clearly came from someone who was seriously disconnected from their department. There was no consideration made for school aged children, fear, or the fact that they are likely getting their work done just fine where they are. This leader wasn’t just closed minded, but lazy too. Had they taken just a small amount of time each week they probably would have had a better idea about the mindset of their people.
Advocacy works both ways – you need one too. We forget that as leaders because we are so focused on being the best for their teams. As middle managers, it is crucial to have our issues heard at the higher levels. I encourage you to find your advocate and communicate openly and honestly with them on the things that bother you. The overall leader deserves to hear the things they need to hear to make the organization better.
Advocacy builds resilient organizations who are more likely to work harder and stay longer. They are loyal because they trust that their views matter, and that somebody who can do something with the information will hear it. Advocacy increases out of the box solutions to common problems.
I encourage you to keep your eyes open for any opportunity to advocate for your teams. You have worked so hard to get them to trust you, don’t take it for granted.