We have all heard the term “curb appeal” before. Curb appeal, typically applied to the real estate market, refers to the attractiveness of a piece of property when looking at it merely from the outside. If the grass is green and the windows are clean, the house has curb appeal. But this concept can also be applied to the hiring practices of health systems, hospitals or any organization that puts leaders in place merely because their resume and accomplishments look good in the press. However, what we need now, more than ever, is real leadership, not just curb appeal leaders.
There is a big difference between real leadership and mere curb appeal leaders. Allow me to share just a few of the differences with you.
Inside vs. Outside
Where there is real leadership, the company looks even better from the inside than from the outside. Where there is mere curb appeal, people join the organization with high hopes based on the company reputation, only to be sorely disappointed when they arrive. Turnover is high. Frustration is rampant. Talented individuals stay for a while but then realize that the internal toxicity is unhealthy and unproductive. Real leaders care about retention. Curb appeal leaders only care about themselves.
Transparency and Communication
Where there is real leadership, organizations value transparency and open communication. In the case of mere curb appeal, you find simply the “appearance” of communication, but it is only one-way. The communication is only from the top down. Curb appeal leaders love to send out emails, especially with their picture prominently displayed. The picture is helpful, since it is probably the only time these “leaders” are actually seen.
Toxicity is Dealt With
Where there is real leadership, toxic managers and bosses are not tolerated. But “curb appeal” leaders couldn’t be bothered to deal with such management problems. That would require effort. And that would require work. And, of course, it would require guts. Dealing with managers who run their departments like little dictators is dirty work. It requires hard conversations. It is much easier just to mow the lawn and wash the siding of the house, rather than dealing with the broken appliances and inefficient layout inside.
Not Just Low Hanging Fruit
Finally, real leaders are not afraid to tackle the big problems an organization faces, whereas “curb appeal” leaders only want to talk about low hanging fruit. Here is the thing: anyone can grab low hanging fruit. It takes no real effort, and no risk. But if the best fruit is higher up in the tree, real leaders will start climbing. But curb appeal leaders will always have an excuse to put this off for another day.
The best organizations will always expect the best from their leadership. They will look for high levels of employee satisfaction and low levels of turnover. Employee feedback and surveys will consistently recognize the effectiveness of those in management roles. They will look for boots-on-the ground leaders who move in and out among the staff, rather than hiding in their upstairs office or boardroom, or worse yet, “leading” remotely from their home. This is the difference between real leadership and mere curb appeal leaders.
Last modified: May 18, 2023