Leadership as Personal Commitment

Daniel Goleman in his book “primal leadership” proposes that the main job of leaders is to encourage the positive feelings from their staff. We are not talking about fluffy feel good programs or implying that managers cannot be demanding or have high expectations of performance.  This is simply saying that people are far more productive when they have positive energy and deploy it for a common cause or purpose.

In my training programs, participants often express that there is frequently a distance that exists between management and the workforce- even at the supervisory level.  Management looks for program to drive employee thinking and feeling (detailed bonus plans, rules and policy, employee benefit structures, etc).

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Do As I Say! (but don’t watch Me….)

Much of management training focuses on how a manager can get his or her people to behave or perform in positive ways.  But one dynamic that is often missed is the concept of Modeling.  Simply put, modeling is demonstrating the behavior you would like to see others demonstrate.  While this is an elementary idea- essentially the demonstration of the Golden Rule- it is easier said than done (do as I say, not as I do)!

Most organizations have structures and job roles in place that make it convenient for members in the hierarchy to avoid behaving as their staff needs to behave.  Let me give you a simple example: work hours.  “Exempt” positions- i.e., those not subject to hourly computation of compensation, work more by the job than by the clock.  While people in these positions have more flexibility with their time on the job- they can schedule a personal appointment or catch their kid’s soccer game during “official” work time- they often are working at night or on the weekends without any additional compensation.  So there are built in pros and cons to these structures.  What does this have to do with modeling?

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Don’t Conserve Your People: Expand Them!

There is an abundance of literature that describes the distinctions between Leadership and Management in organizations.  Much of it asserts that Management is of things and processes and Leadership is influencing people-but I find in real life that these distinctions often become blurred, and in fact don’t matter that much anyway.  To me, the important thing to consider is that both Leadership and Management are concerned with influencing behavior and results through others, though through use of different tools.  However, one thing that is common among both of these disciplines is a tendency to define them as control mechanisms rather than developmental opportunities.

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