Many give orders, but few know how to lead

In every business, whether large or small, once it comprises personnel, there will be personalities to deal with. Personality, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

A person’s personality has an effect on others. Sometimes just the presence of an individual can change or impact a group of people. This is often noticeable in the workplace. The atmosphere can change very quickly when the boss is around. That change may be for better or for worse. The personality of a boss can affect efficiency, attitude, cooperation and overall progress within a company. It would follow then that the quality of leadership impacts the whole organisation. As obvious as that may seem, I’m sure you can think of examples where lack of effective leadership resulted in failed companies.

It can be a major challenge to get buy-in from employees. But as leadership consultant and author John Maxwell points out, “People won’t go along with you if they can’t get along with you.”

The impact of personality in the workplace involves a complex series of interactions. Each worker has to deal with himself or herself, his/her co-workers, with customers and clients and with the boss.

These interactions are regularly tested and can be the source of conflict when it comes to delegating duties or issuing directives.
Do this!
I want this done.
Can you handle this for us?
How do you think this ought to be done?

Each of the above statements reflects a personality trait. If the order is barked out, the response may be prompt, but will probably reflect a certain amount of resentment. If, on the other hand, an order is made to sound like a request or a call for expertise, this soft-skilled approach invariably brings better results. The worker carrying out the order feels better about himself/herself in terms of being useful and he/she feels better about the person who has given the order.

There are bosses who fear that this soft-skills approach is an undermining of their position. They want to make it clear to everyone that they are in charge. They will shout and sulk, curse and accuse, order and abuse. Some say aggression is the only way to survive in this crazy world. They believe that unless you scream your head off, no one will listen. Is that really true?

If you twist someone’s arm they may well do as you say. But will you get the best from them? On the other hand, if you interact respectfully with people, it’s much more likely they will respond to being treated like a human being and will perform with a sense of responsibility, feeling valued.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Unfortunately, this piece of advice is sometimes ignored by employers/bosses who consider it their birthright to be in charge. This can project an air of bossiness. Such bossiness may have someone in authority, but confidence makes a person an authority. Confidence is bred of competence; it is a credential difficult to fake. You cannot order someone to trust you or demand a show of confidence and respect.

Some bosses consider themselves leaders and their employees as followers. But if you want to lead, do you do anything that would make people want to follow you? There are several differences between a boss and a leader. Sam Geist, author of, Would You Work for You, notes a few… “The boss depends upon authority… the leader on goodwill. The boss inspires fear… the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says I… the leader says we.”

Are you a boss or a leader?

Originally published in Business Journal.

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