Can human nature be causing issues in today’s organisations by instinctively being anti leadership?

The biggest challenge for leaders of today is the shift in power away from a command and control, carrot and stick management, to an understanding that their focus needs to be on others.  As organisations grow and develop over the next few years, leaders will benefit from concentrating on empowering, team building and coaching their team.  The emphasis will be on collaborating on goals and ways to achieve them

These leaders do not need to have all the answers, but are confident enough to encourage and develop skills and diversity within their team.  This motivational and engaging focus on others will not only be internal, but are skills relevant to working with customers and service providers alike.

We are still under the control of our primitive minds in much of our behaviour and thinking.  Consider the flight, flight or freeze reactions to a threat, be that real or perceived, real tiger or paper tiger.

A paper from the American Psychological Association (Leadership, Followship and Evolution: Some Lessons From the Past), highlights that there is evidence to show that we may also naturally prefer team work of the hunger/gather age, rather than any command and control leadership.

The best hunters and warriors had influence on the group for decision-making, but their power was limited and based on trust.  Today, humans still evaluate leadership in the same way, preferring fairness, integrity, competence, good judgement, generosity, humility and concern for others.  But often today’s leadership encourages other characteristics that demotive those on the receiving end.

The antithesis of leadership is dominance and selfishness.  But leaders are hired and are accountable to senior management, with many having an implicit understanding that pleasing them is more important than pleasing their team. Team members have little input on hiring or the leadership style that works for them, which in turn could be a major cause of the disengagement we now see.

As well as the standard KPI achievements, a leader’s success should be evaluated by the feedback from those they lead and work with.  There has been so much research in recent years about how people leave their bosses, not their organisations.  And with only 35% of employees engaged, we may need to speed up the development of skills that retain the talent in the team.

Team members are looking at their leaders and evaluating:

  • Trust – will they keep their word, not have favourites, have integrity
  • Good judgement – making the right decisions quickly
  • Values – fairness, honesty, integrity, altruism
  • Competency – experience, knowledge and understanding of the business and the processes
  • Vision – future goals, with explanations as to why it matters, makes sense and is worthwhile

An obvious move for leaders is to develop exceptional self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Leaders who can keep calm in difficult situations and can regulate their emotions, will encourage the motivation, engagement and creativity of their workforce.  Alternatively, a leader who has low emotional intelligence stops listening, causes conflict, amplifies their stress to others, and generally de-motivates all around them.  Not a great place to work!

Leaders who can genuinely collaborate with their teams (jointly setting strategies and direction, visions for success), are playing naturally into the preferences of the primitive parts of our brains and cognitive biases. Humans working effectively with humans!


Please contact Karen at Assiem for a free half hour Strengths, Struggles and Stressors Strategy session over the phone, in which we can identify priorities for leadership skills and the best approach to help you and.or your team.

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