Bad bosses are not only a daily annoyance for the employees, but also a burden on the company’s success. In general, there is a huge gap when it comes to how leadership thinks they are perceived, and how they actually are. It’s in your best interest to close that gap.
Do you consider yourself a good leader? Great, then you are in good company. Because 97% of managers believe themselves to have excellent managerial conduct. It’s just a pity that the employees see things differently… The Gallup Engagement Index of 2016 speaks volumes. According to this most prestigious and also comprehensive study on job quality, managers score significantly worse than what they think they would when it comes to leadership.
According to Gallup, desire and reality are miles apart: “Overall, just one in five employees (21%) says that the leadership they experience at work motivates them to do a great job.” The main problem seems to be the bosses themselves: Because the 97% of the self-satisfied bosses are not aware of their deficits.
Can you measure leadership?
The performance of an organization can easily be understood when looking at the numbers, such as latest sales figures. These metrics are always at the forefront because it is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that relevant targets are met. When the targets are met, they are thought to be a successful manager. However, does this necessarily mean that their interpersonal skills are good? It becomes much more difficult to quantitatively measure leadership quality. Hartmut Wiehle, an expert in organizational development and executive coaching, notes the quality of leadership on other criteria: “I tend to look at the long-term motivation and satisfaction of employees, but also look at the size of the employee turnover.”
Manager or Leader?
“Leadership as a craft has always played a subordinate role in manager training”, as expert Wiehle knows. “Managers are not really taught and encouraged. Although there are more seminars and training courses than before, the focus of them is not really about improving interpersonal skills – but rather their performance.” Another number to note from the Gallup Report; only 40% of managers attended a leadership training course in 2016. Wiehle adds, “Leadership is a major theme of corporate culture. If a company is primarily geared towards order and performance, good leadership is not a cultural element. It is not something measured or even perceived by the bosses.”
Topics such as globalization, digitization and diversity pose completely new challenges for managers. On the one hand, the competitive conditions (and thus the focus on performance) are exacerbated, on the other hand, a corporate culture is required that is very human-oriented – without neglecting performance.
Talk to each other!
The main problem in the relationship between executives and employees in companies is the feedback, or rather the lack thereof! After all, the continuous dialogue between manager and employee is one of the most important levers to increase the emotional bond in the workplace. Marco Nink, Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup confirms this: “It is the task of a manager to release and promote the individual performance potential of employees, and to contribute to the development of individuals. It is important to find out what an employee is good at and what he likes and how he can be used accordingly – this is best unveiled in conversation.”
Wanted role models
It is sometimes the case that upper management lets lower-level executives loose to manage their employees before they are adequately prepared. This is an indictment of the management. Fabian Kienbaum, Managing Director of Kienbaum Consultants International, says that the top executive board has to lead by example: “The board of directors and managing directors must be responsive, decisive and open to new ideas. And they have to demand clearly from their executives what constitutes leadership these days.”
Organizational and leadership expert Hartmut Wiehle has put together some effective action tips for executives for better leadership:
- Try to determine, understand and adopt the form(s) of leadership you want
- Invest in yourself, perhaps independently: training, reading, reflecting, coaching
- Develop a personally authentic leadership style for you. Because faking communication just won’t work.
- Stay balanced. Only managers with good energy make great leaders. See you while jogging!
About the author
Jörg Peter Urbach is the author, editor and blogger of Sprachleidenschaft. He has been writing for more than 25 years, for print and online. Concepts. Stories. Journal articles. After studying musicology and German language and literature, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As long-time chief editor of the portal wissen.de, he knows how to inspire readers with clever topics.
If the native Kieler is not writing, he is walking through the Alps. Or listening to the opera. With mindfulness.