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Are You A B.O.S.S.-Boisterous, Omnipotent, Self Indulgent, Sociopath
Boisterous, Omnipotent, Self- indulgent Sociopath. Avoid the B.O.S.S. syndrome with five leadership principles that translate academic leadership theory to real world, 21st century application.
There are many academic theories published on leadership. Some of these theories include:
Patricia McLagan & Christo Nel state that, “leadership is about breaking new ground, going beyond the known and creating the future.” They talk about new governance requiring effective leadership to create a future. McLagan and Nel report that the shift to increased participation changes their view of effective leadership. They believe that leadership, as a concept, is unstable. They also believe that notions of formal leadership expected from leaders are confused with notions of the individual leadership expected from everyone in the institution.
Richard L. Daft raises the question, “What kind of people can lead an organization through major change?” Daft points out that transformational leadership is characterized by the ability to bring about change through innovation and creativity. This type of leader motivates people to not only follow their lead but to believe in the vision of corporate transformation, the need for revitalization, to sign on for the new vision and help institutionalize a new organizational process.
Situational Leadership Theory (SLT)
SLT suggests that leaders adjust their styles depending on the maturity of their followers, indicated by their readiness to perform in a given situation. Readiness is based on both how able and willing people are to perform required tasks. The Heresy Blanchard theory developed a model that depicts the different leadership styles necessary, ranging from delegating (observe and monitor) to participating (encourage and problem-solve) to selling (explain and persuade) to telling (guide and direct).
Fiedler’s Contingency Model
The Fiedler leadership model is similar to SLT because it is based on a match between leadership style and situational demands. However, the similarity ends there as Fiedler’s theory states that the amount of control a situation allows the leader is a critical issue in determining the correct style to use.
Path Goal Leadership Theory (PGLT)
Robert House advances the PGLT that suggests an effective leader is one who clarifies paths though which followers can achieve both task-related and personal goals. Effective leaders help employees progress along these paths. House goes on to identify four leadership styles in his theory. They include:
1. Directive Leadership: Clarity of expectations & clear directions
2. Supportive Leadership: Making work more pleasant
3. Achievement-oriented Lead: Challenges goals, continuous improvement
4. Participative Leadership: Involving employees in decision making
Vroom-Jago Leader-Participation Model
The Vroom-Jago Participation Model is designed to present a choice on the method used based on the nature of the issues at hand. Vroom- Jago developed three alternative decision methods:
1. Authority Decision: A decision made by leadership & communicated to the employees
2. Consultive Decision: A decision made by the leader after receiving information input and advice from employees
3. Group decision: A decision made with full employee participation
The key to this style of leadership is the ability to recognize which decision model fits each circumstance. Execution of each method becomes critical to avoid confusion.
Just the review of a few theories reminds us of the complexity of leadership. It also makes it clear that being in a position of power, does not, in itself, make one an effective leader. So what happens in the real world on a day-to-day basis with people in positions of power?
People who attain positions of power, whether it is C.E.O., Vice President of Sales, C.O.O., Sales Manager, Branch Manager or another position of authority, reach these positions for a variety of reasons. The reasons are not always a result of competency and hard work; these positions are not always earned. Alternative reasons for being promoted to positions of power include:
Being in the right place at the right time
Extraordinary suck-up behavior
Being the tallest in the land of midgets
Failure to recognize the “Peter’s Principle” – Promoted beyond the individual’s ability to handle the new responsibilities
Success is defined by the quality of leadership at all levels in the organization. Acting like a B.O.S.S. is not a demonstration of leadership.
If a company is to survive in this century, meeting all the challenges of today’s environment, leadership is critical. It is especially critical and quite clear that the company must have one leader at the top that will take the responsibility and accept being held accountable for the results. This includes the development of a team that embraces the concept of effective leadership throughout the organization at all levels. The issue, however, is in the term leadership. This person must be a leader, not a manager, not a CEO, not a president and not an owner. Oh, he can be called any of these things too, but first and foremost he must be a leader that has a vision and a passion to succeed.
Employees want to take pride in their leaders. They are eager to give their trust, but demonstrating the kind of leadership character that deserves that trust cannot be over-emphasized. Don’t let your employees down. Character is built around a true concern for the people within the organization. It is based on fairness and consistency. It is not based on the autocratic authority of the B.O.S.S. syndrome.
The effectiveness of a true leader is not measured in terms of the leadership he or she exercises. It is measured in the leadership evoked. It is not measured in terms of power over subordinates, but in terms of the power released in subordinates. Leadership is not measured in terms of goals and objectives, but it is measured in terms of the accomplishment of others as a result of that leadership. Leadership is not measured in the decisions made, the costs cut or the plans made. It is measured in terms of the growth in confidence, sense of responsibility and acceptance of accountability by the employees that are a result of that leadership. The final test of a true leader is that they leave behind in others the conviction, ability, eagerness and will to carry on.
There are five principles that translate academic theory into real world application in order to guarantee avoidance of the B.O.S.S. syndrome.
Leadership without communication is like a gun without a bullet. It looks impressive but it can’t do anything.
Next to people, communication is the most critical element to success, whether the company is in a growth mode or facing challenges to maintain market share. Failure to communicate is like a virus that can lead to total failure. Communication is essential to developing trust. Trust is necessary to get people to reach down deep inside and give everything they have under the most difficult circumstances. Trust will allow people to give their discretionary energy to meet objectives.
The reason people follow any leader, especially in the business world, is due to trust. The only way to develop trust is through communication – talking to people with respect to gain their respect. Respect is a key ingredient in developing trust. Trust is gained when people think their employer cares about their welfare and recognizes the role each plays in creating a profit. People have to think that the company not only cares about their problems, but that the company will make every effort to solve them.
Leadership and communication are intertwined. Together, they help create solidarity. Solidarity implies a unity within a group that enables it to manifest its strength and exert its influence. This is particularly true when a business is facing challenges from the competition, the external environment, changing market conditions, or economic pressures. Unity describes a oneness of diverse, individual parts making up the whole. It is an achievement that occurs only with appropriate and precise action and leadership.
Communication is the first spark in leadership. It will hold the company together. Nothing else is so crucial to survival and solidarity. It is especially important that the message is consistent throughout the management team. No single factor plays a more precious role in building and preserving trust amongst the employees than communication. It is a make or break issue.
Miscommunication, rumors and garbled messages cause conflict and distrust. Don’t settle for second-rate communication, it’s too critical to success. Avoiding informing all employees, specifically on matters that affect their lives, is like playing with fire. This kind of action breeds resentment, distrust and paranoia.
#2. Commitment with Passion
Employee commitment will soar if the entire executive staff demonstrates a passion for success. Excitement breeds excitement. Success breeds success. The more consuming the desire to succeed, the more leadership is demonstrated, and this draws support from the employees. The President, as the leader of the executive staff, sets the stage. Other managers throughout the organization must follow suit. If the company fails to meet its objectives, chances are the leader did not set the proper environment for success. The leader’s intensity, focus, drive and dedication, along with these same attributes from the executive staff, are the determinants of the level of commitment provided by the employees. Commitment won’t survive if leadership doesn’t exist. The leader must be proactive and publicly demonstrate leadership, confidence and commitment.
If you lead through fear and intimidation using the old “Slap and Point” methodology, you will have little respect; but if you lead with confidence, integrity, commitment and respect, you will have little to fear and gain the respect necessary to accomplish your vision.
#3. You don’t have to have all the answers
A Common Fallacy: Have All The Answers
A mistake many leaders make is the self-imposed responsibility to have all the answers. This is just not accurate. It is okay to admit to not having all the answers. Good leaders are willing to show their imperfections. Surround yourself with a solid executive team and you don’t need all the answers. No one expects perfection, just leadership. Being a leader doesn’t grant you supreme knowledge.
A cosmic truth states: give before you receive. Being the B.O.S.S. by mandating new rules, stipulations, threats and unreasonable demands does not promote unity or trust. It is destructive to the kind of attitude required to succeed. Employee consideration and input is absolutely essential to success. The company needs employee support, trust and respect. But, the company must give before they receive. The leader must know when to lead and when to listen before acting. It is often surprising how much employees can and will contribute if you give them the opportunity to do so.
#4. Employees: The Most Precious Asset
Developing a team is not that difficult if employee development is a priority.
Every employee wants to feel that they have a voice and can be heard. They want to know that management knows they exist and what their contribution is. They want the satisfaction of doing a good job. They want to prove their talent to achieve the desired results. If they are challenged, they will become self- motivated.
People enjoy other people. Most derive satisfaction from interaction with their peers. Recognition is icing on the cake. Employees find the social aspect of the workplace rewarding if the environment is positive and conducive to success. Make coming to work enjoyable for the employees. Create ways to challenge as well as entertain your employees. Provide the opportunity for social interaction. There are a number of ways to do this, from a once a week company sponsored lunch to monthly breakfast sessions with the president to talk about current issues and new events.
Recognition and praise raises self-esteem. Positive feedback and ample communication allow employees gratification and a newfound confidence in the organization. Employees need to feel some sense of power. Most employees derive satisfaction by having an influence over something or someone. Leadership is an inborn trait to some degree in every human being, some more than others. Allow the employees the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in some form or fashion. Create work teams, committees and projects that motivate by presenting the opportunity to make decisions and be a part of the overall process of meeting strategic objectives.
Organizations in the 21st century that dominate market share have characteristics that often create a large and incredibly complex set of independent relationships between highly diverse groups of people. They recognize the value of their employees. Organizations experiencing problems with staffing and retention may find it isn’t due to bad hires or a low unemployment rate. In fact, such problems may be related to poor leadership insight by not recognizing employees as a core competency in the business strategy. Although employees may not fit the strictest definition of a core competency, it is a fact that employees are the ones responsible for creating many of the core competencies. It is an indisputable fact that failure to recognize the importance of employee contributions will ultimately lead to failure, regardless of your business strategy.
Allow the employees to take risks and demonstrate initiative.
Empowerment is a trait used by most effective leaders. The rewards of empowering your employees are far greater than the risk. Give them some independence in choosing their work schedules or other factors that won’t affect overall objectives. Empowering employees allows them to use their own initiative and creativity to accomplish things you never imagined they could.
Employees must take ownership in the success of the organization. This means they must become part of the strategy employed by the company. Acknowledge their presence and contributions, and praise them at every opportunity. But, be sincere. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, had a favorite method of sending personal handwritten notes to employees who demonstrated some form of success. The employee issue cannot be emphasized enough.
Winning organizations continuously build leaders at every level in their organization. Leaders who actively attempt to mentor and build other leaders gain respect throughout the organization and transfer knowledge, ideas, values and attitude about success. Effective Leaders demonstrate these attributes:
A sense of urgency
Project and articulate the vision
Create stretch goals
Develop trust and a spirit of teamwork
Develop realistic expectations for success
Promote an environment of success, trust and belief
Honesty–to tell the truth–to do the right thing–no hidden agendas
Integrity and respect–responsive–recognizing employee value–empowerment
Passion – commitment
Motivate and inspire
Effective leaders must have an edge. They must be courageous enough to take risk and have an unrelenting readiness to act. Popularity is not a requirement, but the ability to generate respect from the employees is, without a doubt, one of the most critical attributes. They must be relentless in their efforts, unconcerned about personal sacrifice of their time, and willing to go beyond normal expectations. Tough decisions are commonplace; uncharted territories will be the norm. Honesty and impeccable character are musts.
Leadership is often described as the art of getting people to accomplish specific objectives. However, organizations are complex social entities with widely distributed responsibilities and assets. Unilateral action toward specific objectives is seldom sufficient in itself to create the kind of success expected for a company seeking growth and increased market share. Leadership is key to harmonizing diverse group interest into a focus-specific mode that supports the mechanics of execution. Those mechanics must include empowerment. The focus is on the way managers orchestrate activities and events and engage others in tasks, empowering them so that the desired results are realized. Action is key and is implicitly equated to professional leadership. This skill is subjective and often artistic. It varies with every situation and every individual. Leadership skills can be enhanced and fine-tuned but a basic ingredient of humanistic understanding must exist to create a platform for leadership development.
Leaders get results. They make things happen. They continually advance a clear agenda, get others to buy in and move the organization to accomplish specific objectives. They are explicit, consistent, concise and sincere. They generally have an abundance of charisma although some leaders gain success with a quieter influence. Leaders take charge and are not afraid of responsibility or risk. Most people want to follow them. A good leader develops openness, honesty, clarity of purpose and a sincere caring for the people they lead. They gain commitment and trust by demonstrating respect for the individual. They have a keen sense of understanding. They believe in their task, they understand the objectives, they communicate clearly and they honestly project the understanding that they need the efforts of everyone to succeed.
Effective Leaders just don’t act like a B.O.S.S. It’s not in their nature. Don’t be a B.O.S.S. Be a leader. If you would like a checklist on effective leadership, please email [email protected] to request a copy.
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