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The Price Of Leadership

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The Price Of Leadership

Creating a culture of self-starting and self-managing teams takes place in a high-control working environment with employee autonomy.

· Agile Zone ·
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There are many leaders and managers out there that think that the purpose of leadership is to direct people on what they should do. These sorts of leaders think that their job it to tell, and then have their minions follow. To some extent they not only tell their minions what to do, but also how to do it. Now, there is a time and a place for this sort of leadership, but there is a price. The price isn't necessarily paid by the leader, but by those that are under them.

This is especially true where those "minions" work under positions that require high demand. There have been many studies that show the link between low control and high demand jobs and how unhealthy they are, but a study released in November 2016 linked the demand of the job to the amount of control of the job to the mortality rate.

What it found was that those in high demand, low control jobs, the type of job where the leader is directing you, carries a 15.4% increase in the mortality rate than those in low control, low demand. The surprising thing found was that those in high demand, high control positions, where you have a say in how you work, had a 34% decrease in the mortality rate. High control leaders are literally killing their people. Not to mention increasing the chances burnout, stress or other unhealthy psychological issues.

I hear you say that the demands on a leader are high, too; they are, but so is the control. The price of bad leadership is paid for by not by the leader, but by those under them. This is not always the case: some people have a high tolerance for no control, others may not. If you combine this with an environment where you cannot discuss issues, openly, where the culture is to hide rather than make open then the higher price is more likely to be paid. Especially if those that are under strain hide it well, then no one at work will know, not until things really boil over, then it may be too late.

I have no doubt that leaders of this type have good intentions. It may be to make sure the work is being done. Make sure that the work is being done right, but the question I ask is "Is it worth the price?"

So how do you give control to those under you while still getting the work done? One answer may be to set the outcome required, the constraints, make them clear, but leave enough wiggle room for those doing the work to do it how they want, not how you want. Let them make the decisions on how they do the work. Those under you may fail, they may do the wrong thing, but make an environment where the damage is limited.

Let people figure out problems themselves. If they ask for help, don't take over, but give them enough to lead them in the right direction where possible. This helps those under you learn. They learn to make the right decisions. They learn to do the job better. They work because it benefits them in the form of mastery, and they become more engaged. This benefits the leader, too. No more micromanaging everything, which provides you with more free time. Stuff gets done quicker as people do not have to wait for your input and decisions.

This may be one method, but I suggest thinking through your own way to give your people more control. Dare I say it, include your people in the discussion. Let them help you figure this out.

This is a big step. You yourself are going to fail, your people will stumble, and there will be temptation to go back to controlling everything, which seems so much easier to do. It may take months or even years to turn, but the benefits can be worth it. What you had previously was leadership through fear. Those under you feared losing their jobs, peer pressure kept them from speaking out (although it may not have stopped them from talking about you behind your back). What you are building now is leadership built on trust and trust can be hard to gain in this circumstance.

For further reading, I highly recommend:
Turn The Ship Around by L David Marquet
Team of Teams by G Stanley McChrystal
Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

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Topics:
agile ,leadership ,high control ,work environment ,micromanaging ,management skills

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