Good leader or bad leader - which are you? Leaders affect every aspect of an organization, which is why assessing leaders' skills and providing the training they need is crucial to an organization's success.
Understanding and applying positive leadership strategies can mean the difference between creating employee engagement, ownership and accomplishment or creating a culture of just doing the job. Excellent leaders understand the difference between good and bad leadership.
Like the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of the North in L. Frank Baum's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz , written in 1900, good bosses and bad bosses represent two ends of the spectrum in personality and deed. Some things never change.
It is possible, however, for people to hone their skills and become better leaders through self-understanding and training. One of management's roles is to provide opportunity for employees to learn from others who lead by example, thereby preparing themselves for professional growth. Good leaders know how to management employee performance, and therefore, create high-performing and high-producing teams. They also create safe and congenial work environments.
The Bad Leader
Poor leadership is prevalent in both the private and public sectors. In her book, Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters, Barbara Kellerman defines seven types of bad leaders
The paramount nature of poor leadership, Kellerman points out, is compounded by poor followers. These are people who fall into a pattern of bad habits, which they model from their bosses. Thus, disharmony erupts in the organization, eventually leading to financial and productivity challenges as well as public scrutiny.
Poor leadership is ultimately expensive. It diminishes employee morale, and employees feel less commitment to the organization and its mission. They disengage from the business - and then they leave.
It has always been difficult for me to understand why poor leaders can't see that bullying, constant criticism and lack of praise for the team does not motivate anyone to do anything extra. Why would anyone feel eager to work harder under such leadership?
According to a 2000 study, reported in the Harvard Business Review, leadership affects six key indicators of the organization's working environment:
- Flexibility and freedom to innovate
- Sense of responsibility
- Level of standards
- Sense of accuracy about performance feedback and rewards
- Clarity of employee mission and values
- Degree of commitment to a common purpose
Considering these indicators, you can understand the effect that poor leaders have on employees and the business.
The Good Leader
In searching for the qualities of a good leader, we could discuss many qualities and topics. Leadership is a hot issue on millions of Web sites that currently include the keyword "leadership."
Many managers will never develop into good leaders. Others will. Good leaders are often prominent within the organization; others are quietly on the fringe but are, nonetheless, great leaders.
Harvard Business School professor Joe Badaracco said, "There are lots of people who look and act like managers, who have excellent managerial skills, and who don't make a lot of noise. Nobody is writing cover stories about them. But after they have been in an organization for a period of time, things are significantly better."
Former GE CEO, Jack Welch identified eight characteristics of good leadership:
- Leaders relentlessly upgrade their teams, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence.
- Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, but they also live and breathe it.
- Leaders get into everyone's skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
- Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency and credit.
- Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
- Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
- Leaders inspire risk-taking and learning by setting the example.
- Leaders celebrate.
Making the most of leadership requires that you put the right people in the right place at the right time. It also means evaluating whether an employee has the right qualities and skills for leadership.
Organizations need to learn to measure the qualities and skills of their leaders. In addition, they must build an environment that encourages and develops good leadership skills through training.
The Right Training Tools
Watson Training & Development offers tools for leadership assessment and development. Our Managing Employee Performance program which is an accelerated learning approach for managers and supervisors ensures that your managers and supervisors develop the skills to become good leaders-the kind of leader that employees want to follow.
Good leaders are who you need to drive and support your organization. Helping to develop their skills is essential.
Source: Managing Employee Performance Seminar March 2011 with Dr. Tom Watson