– Which one do you work for?

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There seems to be two types of leaders in the corporate world these days; on the one extreme is the micromanager who supervises everyone’s work, and on the other end of the spectrum is the person who wants everyone to love him. Interestingly, neither approach is effective for true leadership. Whereas the micromanager tends to turn people off simply because he doesn’t respect the workers ability to do their jobs properly, the “lover” commands no respect either as he tends to avoid taking a stand on any issue; he just wants to keep everyone happy and hopes they will somehow work together towards some common goals. Inevitably they do not and chaos ensues. I am reminded of what former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.”

Frankly, to be an effective leader, I think you have to find a medium between the two extremes. As many of you know, I am an advocate of worker empowerment where you manage from the bottom-up, not just from the top-down. I think it is important to treat workers as professionals, such as giving them responsibility and holding them accountable for their actions. If they believe their voice is heard, they are more inclined to accept responsibility and direction. I think this is an important part of leading a worthy life, both personally and professionally.

I’m also smart enough to know that a manager is not in a popularity contest and is responsible for delivering results. This means the leader has to know the right direction to be heading, be able to articulate it to the staff, and motivate them to get the job done. As such, it is more important for a manager to be respected as opposed to loved. People will simply not produce the deliverables you want if they do not respect you.

One classic example of how you cannot lead through love is exemplified in NBC’s hit comedy, “The Office.” In the show, Michael Scott (as played by actor Steve Carell) is a regional branch manager of an office that sells paper. Here, the manager desperately wants to be loved by his staff, and the more he tries, the less the staff respects him and the office just stumbles along.

When it comes to leadership, there can only be one captain, you cannot lead by democracy. You have to be able to give an order, and you have to have confidence the workers will respond accordingly. This doesn’t mean you have to sit over people with a whip and a chair as exemplified by micromanagement. It is about empowerment and respect. If you haven’t got respect, you won’t be leading anybody anywhere anytime.

Perhaps the best interpretation of leadership I’ve come across is from President Harry Truman who said, “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”

First published: June 11, 2007

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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