HOR­RI­BLE BOSS OR EF­FEC­TIVE LEADER?

Un­like bosses, lead­ers recog­nise the strengths of em­ploy­ees and put them to good use while at the same time as­sist­ing them in im­prov­ing their weak­nesses

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - LIFE­STYLE RE­PORTER

MANY man­agers just learn to get by and never com­plete the jour­ney, end­ing up be­com­ing ter­ri­ble bosses, says DR BABITA Mathur-Helm, a se­nior lec­turer in or­gan­i­sa­tional trans­for­ma­tion and devel­op­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Stel­len­bosch Busi­ness School.

“Most man­agers are in­ef­fec­tive lead­ers, which re­sults in un­happy em­ploy­ees and fre­quent staff turnover. They of­ten fail in their role be­cause they see them­selves as the au­thor­ity with mis­con­cep­tions about what it means to be a boss. These myths, al­though sim­plis­tic and in­com­plete, lead man­agers to ne­glect their key lead­er­ship re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Mathur-Helm says the most fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a boss and a leader is that most bosses em­brace pro­cesses, seek sta­bil­ity and con­trol, and in­stinc­tively try to re­solve prob­lems quickly, of­ten be­fore they fully grasp the ex­tent of the prob­lem.

“Lead­ers, in con­trast, tol­er­ate chaos and lack of struc­ture, and are will­ing to de­lay clo­sure in or­der to un­der­stand the is­sues more fully. With this in mind, busi­ness lead­ers have much more in com­mon with artists, sci­en­tists and other cre­ative thinkers than they do with man­agers, who are self-pro­claimed bosses.”

She says tra­di­tion­ally the role of a man­ager was cen­tred solely on or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture and pro­cesses.

“Back in the 1970s man­age­rial devel­op­ment fo­cused ex­clu­sively on build­ing com­pe­ten­cies, con­trol and the ap­pro­pri­ate bal­ance of power. Al­though that de­vel­oped man­agers as high per­form­ers, it mis­placed the es­sen­tial lead­er­ship el­e­ments of in­spi­ra­tion, vi­sion and hu­man pas­sion; which drive cor­po­rate suc­cess.

“If those in man­age­ment are en­cour­aged to stop see­ing their roles as just about power, au­thor­ity and con­trol, mi­cro­man­age­ment, de­mand­ing or­ders and an ‘I’m al­ways right’ at­ti­tude, they could trans­form into in­spir­ing and in­flu­en­tial lead­ers.

“Lead­ers recog­nise the strengths of em­ploy­ees and utilise them, while at the same time as­sist them in build­ing on their weak­nesses.

“They pro­vide an en­vi­ron­ment for the em­ploy­ees to think for them­selves and solve prob­lems in­de­pen­dently. In­stead of be­ing de­fen­sive.

“A leader helps her/his team be­come more pro­duc­tive and mak­ing sit­u­a­tions bet­ter in­stead of plac­ing blame when things go wrong.”

Mathur-Helm says if an em­ployee is fac­ing a road­block and ap­proaches their line-man­ager for a so­lu­tion, a leader will help the em­ployee trou­bleshoot the is­sue and demon­strate they have con­fi­dence them, in­stead of just telling the per­son ex­actly how to solve the prob­lem.

“This teach­ing qual­ity will give em­ploy­ees con­fi­dence and em­power them to add value and prob­lem-solve on their own. Em­ploy­ees typ­i­cally go to their im­me­di­ate man­ager with is­sues be­cause they are un­cer­tain about their ap­proach, not be­cause they feel in­com­pe­tent.

“There­fore, in­stead of of­fer­ing in­stant di­rec­tion, a leader will ask the em­ploy­ees if they have any idea as some­times em­ploy­ees just need a bit of en­cour­age­ment.

“In the end, if in your man­age­ment role you are not help­ing your em­ploy­ees grow, de­velop and reach their goals you are not do­ing your job.”

Mas­ter these four skills in over­com­ing bossy be­hav­iour:

1. Learn to man­age your­self: Man­age­ment is not about get­ting things done in­de­pen­dently. It is about ac­com­plish­ing things through team­work and con­tri­bu­tions from oth­ers. 2. Learn to man­age re­la­tion­ships and net­works: Recog­nise how power and in­flu­ence work in your or­gan­i­sa­tion and build a net­work of mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ships to nav­i­gate the com­plex po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. 3. Learn to man­age teams: Em­pha­sise and nur­ture a high-per­form­ing cul­ture. Push for “we” in­stead of “I” and al­low the in­di­vid­u­als in the team to each con­trib­ute to their own skills set not merely fol­low­ing or­ders. 4. Learn to build trust: Cre­ate a cul­ture of em­pa­thy, sup­port, guid­ance and com­pas­sion, tak­ing in­ter­est in other peo­ple’s lives.

PIC­TURE: SABC3

Dr Babita Mathur-Helm

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