According to Peter Shankman “strong leadership is the most important competitive advantage companies have— it comes first, before technology, finance, operations, and everything else. “Nice” CEOs and managers are the best leaders: run better companies, attract innovative and more loyal employees, get into legal and regulatory trouble far less frequently (if ever), have better relationships, get more done, and are even healthier than the bad guys.”
The most powerful leaders are almost always the role models for the change they seek.
Wayne Hochwarter, an associate professor of management at the Florida State University College of Business, and his colleagues interviewed more than 700 people from a variety of industries about the treatment they received from their managers. The results were dismal:
- 31 percent reported that their supervisor gave them the “silent treatment” during the year.
- 37 percent said that their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
- 39 percent noted that their supervisor didn’t keep promises.
- 27 percent told the researchers that they had discovered that their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
- 24 percent reported that their supervisor invaded their privacy.
- 23 percent indicated that their supervisor blamed others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.
According to the researchers, this kind of employee– manager abusive relationship resulted in a workforce that “experienced more exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed mood and mistrust.” These workers were also less likely to take on additional tasks, such as working longer or on weekends, and were generally less satisfied with their jobs. Also, employees were more likely to leave if they were involved in an abusive relationship than if they were dissatisfied with their pay— proving the old maxim that people quit bosses, not companies.
What makes a strong leader ?
He or she
- Creates a system in which the leader feels secure but is also accountable. He or she is confident enough to say, “I made a mistake” when he or she screws up;
- Appeals to workers’ own enlightened self-interest by investing in individual growth and development, which makes all transactions globally beneficial;
- Consults early with those who will be affected by big decisions;
- Seeks counsel and listens carefully and rarely acts in a vacuum;
- Expects the truth and responds with dignity even if the truth isn’t pretty; and
- Reacts in a way that won’t add insult to injury even when things are at their worst, and thereby deprives public sharks of content that could further hurt the company.
The customer service– centric leader
- Knows that a focus on service builds revenue;
- Puts a premium on what customers say and do;
- Has a structure or framework in place to quickly meet customer demands;
- Works on continual improvement so service problems don’t reoccur;
- Changes what’s not working without looking back;
- Makes it easy for people to become and stay customers in every way possible.
Perhaps the best advice in the book is that strong leaders do what’s right, even if it’s not always obviously profitable— because they know that real profits come from doing the right thing.
I enjoyed the book and wish that more executives would read it and take it to heart but the reality is that it takes courage to do the right thing and treat people like assets instead of expendable pieces of a machine.