Leadership is to Boss Management as choice is to control psychology.   When everyone on your team is kicking in and doing their part then working “hard” together  for a good leader can be one of life’s most satisfying experiences.  Everyone wants to make a contribution that matters in this world.  Putting the component parts together that enable that to happen…priceless.

Leadership Management Versus Boss Management
What makes Boss Management so destructive is that it focuses on the individual frequently pitting and comparing workers to each other versus Leadership Management which is focused on building a cooperative system.  One large publicly traded company decided to move their managers from hourly to salary.  Some workers are now working 60-70 hours a week versus the 40 they worked as an  hourly employee.  Some are not.  Some cannot because of their life situation.  The company has not described the culture they want to create in this circumstance.  Do they want everyone to work 60-70 hours?  Are they going to reward those who are and not reward the others?  Whose bonus will be bigger at the end of the year?  Does the company want their workers to have an active vibrant family life outside of work?  Do they want their team to come in on their day off?    Will the workers who work 60-70 hours and are not rewarded be resentful?  Will the employees who are working 40 hours feel like a lesser citizen?  There is a veritable smorgasbord of problems brewing here.  What’s going to happen when someone working 70 hours a week finds out that someone working 40 hours doing the exact same job makes $12,000 more a year?

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You may notice that in a  boss or control psychology driven environment that people feel pushed, manipulated and coerced to “get things done”.   They will feel unappreciated, devalued and might say or think “nothing I do is good enough.”  The more people feel bossed the lower morale sinks.  The more people feel manipulated the higher the likelihood that the mission will be obstructed. Meeting deadlines and quality will be compromised.  What makes Leadership Management work is that it focuses on building a collaborative and accountable system that has as a core belief that if you treat people well and explain what you want them to do then you can trust them to do a good job.  I know some are reading this and saying “no you cannot trust them”.  Of course, those readers have likely been immersed in a Boss Management system that erodes trust.  I realize that Leadership Management is foreign to many of us but bear with me as I present its Four Key Elements.

  1. Lead Managers engage all of their workers in an ongoing honest discussion of quality and productivity.  They want to hear from their team as to how quality can be improved and costs can be lowered.  It is safe for the employee to speak and even disagree.
  2. The Lead Manager or someone of their choosing models the job so expectations of the staff are clear.  As this transacts, workers are encouraged to give input into how their roles & goals can be “done better”.  This interaction if engaged authentically gives the team member more creativity and control over their jobs.
  3. The Lead Manager makes it clear that quality trumps cost.  As this is experienced over time, workers trust of their leadership increases. In fact,  they will likely desire to inspect their own teams’ work…productivity and quality.
  4. The Lead Manager teaches that the gist of quality is relentless improvement.  The Lead Manager is present to facilitate progress by providing the workers with tools, training and a friendly/safe environment to do the work.

To conclude, the dynamics of moving from control to choice are easily engaged but don’t change over night.  It might take a couple of years.  There is so much momentum in this world towards control that even choice based or Lead Management interactions may be viewed as control tactics until trust is built or rebuilt.  A few years ago sales executive engaged in action for which he could have been fired…perhaps…should have been fired.  His “boss” well acquainted with control strategies though sincerely trying to be a choice based leader engaged the behavior with compassion and questions so that she could fully understand why her executive did what he did.  Ultimately, given consideration for what she just heard she asked her team member, “what would you do with you if you were me?”  To her surprise came a well reasoned response and plea.  With some minor tweaking, the sales exec’s disciplinary plan was put into place.  The Lead Manager in this story continued to build her relationship with this staff member so that he felt like a valued member of the family and made sure he was given the resources needed to succeed.  He designed disciplinary action that placed himself on probation but you would have never known it by how he was “cared for”.  It would not have been wrong nor unwise for this manager to have fired him…but she would have cut loose the sales executive who is currently and has been for some time now…her team’s top  producer.