“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes” (Mark Nepo)
The use of positional power and authority to get employees to act on objectives and team tasks can certainly yield results, but this authoritarian style of leadership does not engender trust or willingness on the part of employees to offer discretionary effort. The results achieved will be short-lived. Employees become disgruntled when managers pay little thought to the personhood of workers or take little notice of any achievements, however big or small. Staff members react negatively when they are not treated as individuals or when their gifts and skills are not recognised. People react to leadership selfishness with despondency and to indifference with disdain.
Most managers probably have the desire to be sought-after leaders, but many struggle with the process of getting there – there seems to be ignorance around how to construct and maintain a team of willing followers. A flower is not concerned about positional power, authority, beauty, style or status, it just blossoms (it becomes what it was designed to be) and bees swarm to it. So, what are the “blossoming” characteristics of which managers should be aware and aspire to? They include some or more of the following tenets:
- Leadership presence – absent or remote leadership doesn’t engender quality relationships. A leadership presence that is actively involved is essential for emotional connection and the building of trust relationships.
- Walking the talk – setting an example consistently. Managers must behave in alignment with the company values and use the set of values as a guide to make decisions, discuss performance and quality issues and as a tool to motivate employees towards enhanced customer service.
- Compassion – firmness on performance and results, but understanding of the human condition. Treating people with respect and dignity is the foundation for depth and commitment in relationships.
- Recognition – celebrating achievements, however small they may be, reinforces expected behaviour and focus and demonstrates the value that leadership places on people.
- Feedback – keeping short accounts with everyone. Most employees want to know how well they are doing and areas for needed improvement – have regular feedback conversations to keep employees focused appropriately. Be prepared to receive feedback too.
- Envisioning – creatively discussing the “big picture” of the company frequently. Employees find security in knowing direction and being part of the planning to achieve goals.
- Have fun – humour (and generally making work enjoyable) lifts the spirits of employees and lightens the environment. People are usually more creative and innovative when they are enjoying themselves.
- Be fair – no favourites. Treat people as individuals, but be fair to all. Apply the same principles and discipline to everyone.
Becoming a sought-after leader requires consistency in management behaviour – “blossoming” in alignment to company values. The worker bees will come automatically.