The Critical Difference between Effective And Ineffective Leadership
Family Business Perspective – By Dan Schneider
Leadership is all about the use of power and influence to produce results. Each of those two factors comes from a different place. Power comes from the organizational chart – can you make people comply with your directives (sometimes called accountability); and influence comes from inside the person – do you have what it takes to get people to commit to your dreams (sometimes called dependability). How well and how often you choose between those two styles usually determines your effectiveness as a leader.
Knowing how to balance and when to use these two factors is critical. If you’ve populated your staff with people who lack the behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent to meet your expectations, then you are likely finding yourself believing, “Where has all the good talent gone?” As a result, you may find yourself relying almost exclusively on power to force your staff to comply with your directives, with the hopes they get close to the results you want.
If you find your leadership style is leaning mostly on power, then the odds are pretty good you are also spending a lot of time thinking “Can’t you people do anything right? Do I have to tell you what to do every minute of every day?” In short, you literally or figuratively nag your way into becoming a difficult person to work with and an almost impossible person to work for. Either way, everybody loses. You lose productivity and leave some of your profitability on the table; the employee gives in to MCS – malicious compliance syndrome; and the customer generally receives not much more than a moderate level of quality service. And in today’s world, moderate levels of customer service mean lost market share.
However, if you have chosen and trained your staff wisely, then you have already opened the door to coaching for success built upon strengths, rather than criticizing to drive out weaknesses. When coaching, praise every improvement, even the slightest improvement, so your people gain confidence in delivering the level of high performance you have told them (this is an important principle!) that you expect. Keep your expectations simple (not low, but simple!) so that people believe they can be met; and provide examples of how others have met the same expectations. A formula that many have found helpful is to educate the staff on what you want, how you want it done, and why you want it done. The “why” part is what usually separates those who rely on power from those who rely on influence.
In summary, remember- beating people up does not make them better employees and does not produce a higher level of accountability. It just makes them battered employees who will take great delight in malicious compliance – following a direct order to the letter, even if doing so produces a negative effect. On the other hand, treating people with dignity and respect does not create an “entitlement” culture. Instead, it produces a “dependability” attitude among employees who commit to meeting your expectations and going above and beyond to avoid disappointing you. That, my fellow business owners, is the difference between ineffective and effective leadership.
Dan Schneider is a Partner/Director of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm, and a Board member of the International Succession Planning AssociationTM (ISPA®.) Dan specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by multi-unit franchisee owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or call 407-578-4455.