Leadership - A Privilege or a Curse?

Service Business

Is leadership a privilege or a curse for a leader? Being a leader (leader, manager - although these terms are not entirely identical, in this article they will be used interchangeably in this article) is primarily contact with people, and more precisely establishing, maintaining, developing and ending interpersonal relationships. Importantly, where people are important, it is impossible to predict everything - every reaction, thoughts or emotions. Hence all sorts of problems and pitfalls that can make it difficult to manage group relationships. It should not be forgotten that the leader is also a party (and so important) of these relations, and at the same time - only a person who has the right to make mistakes.

A leader may be more or less talented, but keeping in mind a few important points, a novice or less talented manager can also achieve spectacular success. What are the pitfalls of leadership? What do you need to pay special attention to in order to be a good leader? Is being a leader a privilege or a curse?

Leadership - what are its functions?

When considering the mistakes and pitfalls of leadership, it is worth starting with the leader. Undoubtedly, performing such a function makes you proud and gives you wings (undoubtedly), but it cannot overshadow the most important role of leadership - influencing and interacting with people. Without other people, it is impossible to talk about being a leader at all. It often happens that those who become leaders forget about this aspect of governance and focus only on themselves, investing resources in creating the image of a "super-leader".

At this point, it is worth recalling the functions of leadership. One of the most comprehensive shots lists as many as 14 of them:

  • planning and organizing,
  • Troubleshooting,
  • explaining,
  • informing,
  • monitoring,
  • motivating,
  • consulting,
  • accepting,
  • supporting,
  • conflict management and team building,
  • maintaining contacts,
  • delegation,
  • staff development,
  • rewarding.

Functions that are directly related to interpersonal relationships - contacts with subordinates, contractors, and other leaders are emphasized. As you can see - they constitute the majority of the roles played by the leader in the team (the others can be described as indirectly related to relationships). Therefore, what attitude he will adopt and how he will treat others is extremely important, and thus - can involve making many mistakes.

Look at me, I am the most important, infallible and I know everything best - such an attitude or a mask adopted by a leader will not lead to anything good, and it certainly will not help win people over. It is extremely important in leadership that trust will emerge if the leader is genuine - that is, shows his weaknesses, is able to admit a mistake, or sincerely enjoy the success achieved. Someone might say that a manager should be aloof, cool and infallible, or else the people he leads will think he is weak, they will not take him seriously. Such humility is, in fact, a sign of strength, and it goes very well with self-confidence (which should be a good leader), thus ensuring the respect of subordinates.

If a leader adopts the mask of a superhero instead of being humble and honest, people sense that he cannot be trusted, stop believing in his goals, and find that he does not really need them. Their enthusiasm for work fades away.

This is confirmed by research conducted by two American scientists who are authorities in the field of leadership - James Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. From nearly three decades of observations and surveys, they concluded that people expect four traits from leaders. The first is honesty - so subordinates want to feel that their leader will not lead them astray, that they can trust him. We'll talk about the other features later in the article.

A good leader is part of the team, participates in the activities of the group he leads, takes into account the opinions of his subordinates, whom he draws into the decision-making process. It results directly from the previously mentioned leadership functions. The super-leader, on the other hand, is his opposite - he thinks that "going down to the level" of the people he directs is inappropriate, he cannot listen, and even if he can - he is not interested in the opinions of his subordinates, he makes all the decisions himself. People follow such a leader out of constraint, not because they want and believe in the goals he sets.

Of course, history knows super-leaders, narcissists, ignoring others who have managed to achieve great success and draw crowds with them. However, such an attitude must result from the leader's personality traits, create a certain coherent image with them, which will be perceived by subordinates as honest, authentic and honest. If it is only a mask to cover the leader's weaknesses, suspicion and distance arise instead of trust.

Leadership versus inept team building

Considering the importance of interpersonal relationships in leadership does not always guarantee 100% success. It may turn out that the leader, despite his sincere intentions, is unable to carry the crowds with him. There can be many reasons for this - from ineffective recruitment, through ineffective motivating, favoring "pets", or the assumption that subordinates understand and feel everything the same as the leader.

A serious mistake of the leader is the wrong selection of people for the team. It is an extremely difficult task. Research shows that the chance of employing a good employee without prior preparation for this task is only 10-11 percent. In other cases, the costs of poor recruitment are huge, so it is worth preparing for this process, specifying who exactly you are looking for, with whom you want to cooperate.

Another mistake is assuming that subordinates perfectly understand the company's philosophy and all its assumptions, goals and reasons for action. Even if the leader, and thus the company, has an impressive strategy, vision and mission, it does not guarantee success if they are not understood by subordinates at all levels of the hierarchy. An effective leader should take the time to properly convey his vision down the structure and to set sub-goals that make up the main goal for a given period of time. It is also worth remembering to include subordinates in the decision-making process, which will certainly help them understand the vision and identify with it.

Leaders also make many mistakes when it comes to motivating their subordinates - it is often assumed that it is enough to grant a bonus or a raise, and the people they follow will have more enthusiasm, energy and will do their best. Of course, wage incentives are needed - no one is hiding that the vast majority of employees take up employment for money.However, the so-called non-wage motivation, stimulating internal mobilization of subordinates. The easiest way to achieve such a state of the employee is praise (absolutely deserved!), Giving feedback on how he / she performed a given task, what he could possibly correct, and what he did very well. In today's - very material - times, leaders are forgetting that these cost-free boosters can do more than an extra dollar in your account.

At this point, it is worth referring to the research of Kouzes and Posner - the second quality that leaders want to see in their subordinates is the ability to inspire. A good leader is like an outstanding conductor - he can make the organization (orchestra) go where it is supposed to go. How does it achieve this? It is through inspiration, i.e. infecting your subordinates with an idea and a vision of the future. This feature includes both the ability to clearly and precisely convey the mission to others, and to motivate effectively.

It should also be remembered that motivation is not about putting pressure on the employee. Excessive pressure on subordinates may cause them to become tired and reluctant to work. A good leader skilfully delegates tasks, adapting them to the needs and skills of his team members, while inspiring them to work.

Being a leader means resolving conflicts at different levels. A mistake a leader may make in this regard is to assume that people will "get along". Of course, every single misunderstanding should not be interfered with, but ignoring a conflict can cause it to escalate to such an extent that it will be difficult to control and find a way out. Failure to resolve disagreements may affect how a leader is perceived by subordinates - there may be the impression that the leader is incompetent.

This is very dangerous because, according to research by American scientists, the third trait people want to see in their leaders is competence - so they should be familiar with many different areas. Conflict resolution or motivation are some of the soft skills a good leader should be equipped with.

Leadership versus lack of vision

A major mistake of a leader is the lack of vision, something he is striving for and what he wants to inspire his team to. It is this overarching goal that drives us to creative and effective action, sets its direction, and allows us to overcome problems. You can always say that the goal is to develop or conquer the market. However, these are too general concepts that are of little value in the context of leadership.

A leader should be able to look to the future, set ambitious goals and inspire others to achieve them. Without a clear idea of ​​what you want to achieve, it's hard to lead people. Having a clear vision means that the leader becomes an inspiration for those around him.

Vision also facilitates the setting of intermediate goals and decision making. A leader who does not know what he is trying to achieve will not be able to act efficiently. Uncertainty will creep into its operation, which will definitely be visible to the environment.

This is confirmed by the research of Kouzes and Posner, because the fourth and final quality required of leaders is farsightedness. And it is not about clairvoyance, but about defining goals that can be met, or set in the distant future, but with motivational potential, consistent with the leader's vision.

The vision is based on the values ​​professed by the leader, that is, everything that is guided by his daily conduct, what he believes in. Based on them, you should imagine an ideal future for your company - why does it exist, what does it look like, what is its mission and how does it implement it? It should be remembered that leaders are goal-oriented people, so they should set specific, measurable and time-bound goals that will allow them to move from where they are today to this ideal vision of the future.

Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

Leadership and the manipulation trap

Exactly - some may confuse being a good leader with being manipulated. The line between them is indeed relatively thin, but at the same time very clear. And this clarity should be noticed by every leader.

Manipulation is primarily aimed at persuading people to do what is in the interest of the manipulating person. At this stage, the resemblance to leadership is striking. However, in the case of the former, it is all about hidden activities that make people unwittingly but voluntarily begin to pursue the manipulator's goals. Leadership is something completely different - the leader starts by presenting his vision, introducing people to the goals he wants to achieve. He can do this in such a way that they begin to believe (consciously) what he believes, so they make their own decisions about whether to join him or not. The manipulator often leaves no such choice as people do not even realize that they are acting under its dictation - by using various techniques, it draws them into something that they probably would not want to be involved in. They are doing something that they otherwise would not have chosen to do.

As you can see, the line between leadership and manipulation is quite clear. Being a leader is about kidnapping people who will be able to give the most of themselves, while allowing them to achieve their own goals (which largely coincide with the goals of the leader). The modern model of leadership is all about cooperation, helping to achieve a common vision, without imposing one's own will by the leader. However, the manipulator is about something else - about the use of people, and often in a very unethical way.

If a leader begins to use techniques of influencing others in order to use them for his purposes against their will, he ceases to be a leader and becomes a manipulator. Of course, you can base your power on it, but only for a limited time. After a certain period (more or less), people start to feel that something is wrong and stop being so committed and willing to work. This, in turn, reduces the effectiveness of the entire enterprise, which makes it impossible to achieve the goals assumed in the vision of the leader-manipulator.

For some, leadership is a hard piece of bread, while others feel like a leader as a fish in the water. However, it can set a snare for everyone, regardless of their qualities and abilities. There is now a perception that leadership can be learned. It is important that everyone who undertakes this task or is appointed to it, remember that it is based on contact with others. It is also worth bearing in mind the functions of leadership and constantly working on the four traits - honesty (humility), farsightedness, inspirational abilities and competence.