Leadership Styles: Confusion And Knee Jerk Reactions
Are people more complex than they used to be in our Grandfathers day? Or during our Fathers working lives? What do you think? Or is it just that people are savvier than they ever used to be? Are the waves of technological change that engulf us, advancing or confusing us?
We are living in a moment of flux. There is a new economy – a global, diverse and multicultural melting pot of disaster and opportunity combined. At the same time, there is a workplace revolution taking place. Out go the jobs for life, loyalty and dedication; in comes insecurity, change and manipulation. And the pendulum swings between employer and employee as to who is manipulating who?
So why do so many leaders fail to see the writing on the wall and keep up with this pace of change? Because they are confused, ill prepared and using out of date leadership models and leadership practices to deal with the ‘new world’ situations they are now facing. They think they have all the answers and they operate under the misapprehension that their employees expect them to have all the solutions. Power takes hold. Greed fogs the mind and social responsibility goes out the window. But this kind of leadership from on high in a hierarchical command and control structure is obsolete – dead, buried. So too is the ‘house of change’ – used as an excuse by leaders to blame and make excuses for the apparent poor behaviour of their employees.
What leaders don’t seem to be grasping is the amazing ability of the worker to adapt, survive and embrace both technological and corporate change.
Yes. More and more people are experiencing the power that comes from grabbing hold of their working and social life by the scruff of the neck and taking individual responsibility for their personal and professional lives. As Peeta proclaims in the film ‘The Hunger Games’ “I won’t let them change me”. Leaders have forgotten that employees think – we are like the ants that rebel against the grasshoppers in the film ‘Bugs Life’. Workers are beginning to see more of what’s going on in the world. And what we see we don’t like:
- Crass leadership decision making which has flushed many previously great organisations such as General Motors, Royal Bank of Scotland, Kodak and Woolworth down the toilet.
- Corruption in organisations such as Lehman Brothers, News Corporation and FIFA to the extent that there are no longer any institutions exempt from scrutiny for their strategy and their actions.
- A dangerous tussle is taking place where employers or employees are seeking to impose a pace of ‘continuous improvement’ when what’s needed today is wholesale, cataclysmic change if old generation organisations are to keep pace with new entrants on the world stage.
- At a more local level, overloaded leaders are failing to delegate effectively, because they don’t trust their own people and then they fail to make decisions, holding endless committees, with meeting after meeting. To justify their existence they wrap their employees up in countless email traffic, action plan upon action plan and top down communication dictates.
- As the world marches on and leaders are then forced into making decisions (which usually affect the employees or customers first!) they do so with ill conceived, knee jerk reactions.
- One of the most profitable professions emerging in the world is that of the employment law lawyer – the courts are bulging at the seams with case after case and fundamentally the reason they got this far is due to a total failure of leadership use the full repertoire of leadership styles needed in todays complex and diverse humanistic environment and address issues in the right way, by simply treating people like human beings.
In the words of Tom Peters Re-Imagine! “Free the cubicle slaves!”
What does Simon Teague think?