quinta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2015


Three Proven Qualities of Great Leaders: #2 Stability

Leadership isn't a mystical state or a gift that only some people have--it's a skill. As with any skill, there are do's and don'ts, yet it's easy to be blinded to these, particularly if you aren't getting direct feedback from the people you are leading. The Gallup Organization, as we discussed in the first post of this series, has done invaluable work by gathering data on the subject of leadership. They took the pragmatic step of asking followers, workers, and team members what they value most in a leader. This approach clears away the distortions that ego brings to the situation--there are many personal reasons, after all, for why bad or ineffective leaders believe they are successes when the reality is far otherwise.

The first quality in a good leader was trust,which we covered in the first post. The second is stability. Immediately this term brings job stability to mind, and that's been a major issue since the economic downturn of 2007. Everyone has needs. The most basic need, the one upon which everything else is built, is safety. Feeling safe and secure isn't guaranteed just because you have a job, but the opposite--feeling threatened in your survival--strikes countless people when they lose their jobs.

A leader who does all he can to keep his followers feeling safe will go a long way in their eyes. Such leaders buck the trend of history, because in the corporate setting, management has often been divided from labor, and the very idea that a manager should look out for the welfare of workers has been foreign. In other countries (e.g., Japan and Germany), this divide is replaced by a culture of cooperation, where management and workers accept joint responsibility for the success of the company. 

You and I can't change America's corporate climate, but as a leader, you can foster cooperation by adopting the belief that you are the key to preserving stability. This quality extends beyond basic job stability, which is basically controlled from the highest echelons. What you can influence enormously is psychological stability. Here are typical behaviors of a leader who fosters psychological stability.

-- They are predictable on a day-to-day basis.

-- They keep those around them informed.

-- They are inclusive about decision-making.

-- They don't freeze people out, giving no explanation why.

-- They allow freedom of choice as much as possible.

-- Their behavior isn't tyrannical.

-- They are open to reason.

-- They apply processes and procedures consistently.

If you follow these behaviors, you will make the situation around you more stable. The opposite behaviors, which increase instability, are often nothing less than childish. Young children act on impulse, go up and down according to their moods, and are untrained in process and procedure--they want what they want, without understanding what it might take to get there. Most adults are reluctant to admit when they are being childish, and this self-blindness makes them the kind of leader who is capricious, demanding, and a law unto himself. The people around them suffer the ill effects of psychological instability--fear, resentment, suppressed hostility, insecurity--that no one should have to put up with. 

If you sit back and take a hard look at your management style, let's hope you don't see a full-blown tyrant in your behavior. What's more common, and sometimes harder to see, are the following behaviors that create instability.

-- You hint at dissatisfaction without offering reasons why.

-- You criticize others in public.

-- You complain about problems without linking them to solutions.

-- You trust only a small circle of people.

-- You enforce rules inflexibly.

-- You arbitrarily move people in and out of positions of responsibility.

-- Your system of reward and punishment is unpredictable and inconsistent.

-- You dictate according to your mood.

-- You openly approve and disapprove of others; you show favoritism.

Only when taken to an extreme do these behaviors cost others their jobs, yet on a daily basis they can erode the atmosphere in the workplace quite severely. All the qualities of a great leader consist of thinking beyond your own narrow self-interest. It takes a secure person to help others with their potential insecurity, but that's exactly what a good leader does, and if you can reach even further, influencing the wellbeing of many others, you are potentially a great leader.

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