Leaders come in all sizes and shapes. Their “Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles” (Kotter, 1996).In this process of making things happen, they usually forget one thing and that is their own personality and aligns with an image of the godfather of their team members. Yes, they become godfathers. They act as superior beings for their team members. The need for affiliation, power, and achievement as mentioned by David Mc Clelland.
Godfather leaders, imagine themselves as the person with all the answers. People come to them when they don’t know what to do. Godfather’s image starts from here only when a leader thinks that I have all the answers and that too the right one. Acting as a godfather, he gives solutions to problems and starts closely monitoring all the activities in which he has given a word. His micromanagement is very self-satisfying for him for the image of a godfather.
The downward spiral of leaders and team.
There’s one big problem with these types of leaders. The teams they lead, and the lives they live, get worse instead of better.
The problem is that the leader is playing the game with only one brain. leaders think they have the only good ideas. They shoot down or ignore everyone else’s ideas. Guess what? Teammates quit bringing ideas. Leaders micromanage everyone. Guess what? Teammates quit showing initiative and wait for instructions.
The result is exactly what you’d expect. Productivity drops. Morale tanks. The best people leave for more congenial surroundings.
The team members suffer from this. The organization suffers, too. But the person who suffers most is the leader.
As teammates stop showing initiative and sharing ideas, the leader needs to do more and more. That leads to long hours at work.
As productivity drops and top performers bail, stress goes way up for a leader. There’s lots and lots of frustration.
Longer hours and more stress take their toll at home, too. The leader spends less and less time with his or her family. To make things worse, the leader brings home frustrations from work and makes the few hours with family less than pleasant.
The Leader as Human Being
If you want to lead like a human being instead of a godfather, here are some things to think about.
You can’t do it all, so don’t try. Instead, lead like the fallible human being you are. Understand that you aren’t perfect, and you have limited capacity.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, as many people have said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” If the brains of your teammates are in the game, you have a much greater possibility of success.
Work at using your behavior to influence the behavior and performance of others. It’s simple, really. Command requires you to know everything. Influence frees you to use all the brains around you.
If you’re a human being with the job of leading, your job is to create an environment (you can call it a culture) where people want to do good work. Then, your job is to help them do it. Here’s more good news. We know how to do that.
Give the People What They Want
When I say to give the people what they want, I’m not talking about giving them anything they want. I’m not talking about balloons and birthday cake. Instead, give the people what we know helps make a great place to work.
People want to have the maximum control possible over their work life. They want to make as many decisions as they can about how and where and when they work. Let them have as much control as you can.
People want to do important work. They want to know that what they do all day makes a difference somehow. Tell them why the work they do is important. Help them understand whose life is better because of what they do.
People want a safe and friendly place to work. Your job is to create a team culture that gives them that. You must be fair and consistent in the way you treat team members. You must be hyper alert to intra-team conflicts. When you become aware of one, do what you can to make it go away.
People want to make progress. They want to be in a better place today than they were yesterday. They want next year to be even better. Coach them. Help them succeed and grow and the progress will come.
The Path to A Better Life
When you lead like a human being and create a place where people can do good work and do important work with people they like, many things get better.
People pitch in and productivity increases. Good people stay. You help people on your team succeed. You hear the friendly laughter that’s characteristic of a great working environment.
The good things don’t stop there. You can go home at night and not take the stress with you. You have more time for your family and personal interests. You’ll probably sleep better.
In research conducted by Robert Anderson and William Adams for their book Scaling Leadership, they identified that the number one differentiator of effective leaders is strong people skills and that six out of ten of their biggest strengths related to people skills such as listening, developing others, and empowering their team members.