Thought Leadership

Putting The "Human Factor" Back Into Managing

The Carrot and Stick are pervasive and persuasive motivators. But if you treat people like donkeys, they'll perform like donkeys - John Whitmore

What a powerful statement! Management style matters! Employees today have choices; they don't have to work for the boss with anger issues who bully them into submission. Research shows that most people who leave their job quit their boss, not the company. The authoritarian style of managing - the "DO WHAT I SAY" approach - can get results, but it does have consequences. Over time, it will dampen employee's motivation and foster low moral. On the flip side, leaders that show humility achieve better results.

Today's values based leadership has cast a new light on the way managers manage. The old school "command and control" style has proven to be effective in the short term, but it just beats employees down. Forget about employee commitment and engagement. Its time we put the "Human Factor" back into our management playbook.

A recent Lee Hecht Harrison article, written by Dr. Vince Molinari, called out mediocre leaders - his article characterizes the current state of leadership as inept. Further, he states that today's leaders blame others, never take accountability, are selfish and lack empathy. They are literally "sucking the life out of their companies." I'm not sure the current state of corporate leadership is as bad as this article insinuates. However, we have a long way to go before we see middle managers and C-Suite leaders who are empathic, transparent, and believe in real accountability, both for them and others.

The changing workplace will no longer tolerate leadership that does not achieve "people" results. Engaged employees are happy employees, they are more productive and contribute to the bottom line. As Baby Boomers retire, the workplace will see profound changes. Generation Y has arrived and Generation Z are on the cusp. These new demographics will shape the future workplace. Old style leaders will be gone will the retired Baby Boomers. Idealistic, socially conscious and technological driven leaders will drive the future. A focus on the "Human" aspect of managing will become a core competency for all future leaders. Expectations are changing.

During my corporate career, I had all types of bosses - good ones, bad ones, and really bad ones. I learned from all of them! I benefited from these experiences in numerous ways; the most important benefit was shaping my own views of effective management and approach. I learned three key life lessons on how to manage others for best results. They include:

  • The value of social competency, which is the ability to get things done with and through others by motivating them to succeed. As you grow and develop and take on the responsibility of managing others, social intelligence is critical. Without this attribute, prepare to fail.

  • I learned the value and joy that comes with developing others. All good managers must take seriously their role in influencing the success of their staff. There's no way for us to single-handedly create a scenario of success with every individual, but we can communicate the criteria and performance expectations and create a positive culture in which every employee can succeed. The rest is up to them.

  • I learned the importance of showing humility; admitting mistakes and taking responsibility. Hold people accountable by clearly communicating expectations. That's what values based leadership is all about.

Don't you think its time we put the "human factor" back into the management competence profile?

Until next time...

Jim Ward