Take Your Business Back!


I often hear from managers that employees have more power than their bosses. Studies have shown that the majority of workers in North America do not want to move into a management role. The current trend toward servant leadership and participative management has created a lot of very good results, but in many cases it has also created chaos, poor morale and reduced performance.

In the nineteen-fifties and prior, we witnessed command and control management styles in most businesses and Government service sectors. That method of leadership allowed manipulation, oppression and in some cases, outright cruelty to employees in the workplace.

Workers were threatened and intimidated in the name of better performance standards. Although command and control worked in its own way, it led to dissension, distrust of management and employee rebellion. Ultimately, it gave greater power to unions and paved the way for the servant leadership style that most leaders either espouse or give lip-service to in the twenty-first century.

The trend toward what I call, soft-servant-leadership is beginning to erode the ability of North American business to perform effectively. It is at least partially responsible for the lack of discipline that led to the recent American banking industry collapse and it is usually the root of cause of poor performance in any industry or public sector. When there are no apparent consequences, chaos is allowed to rule. Command and control mangement as been replaced by some new phenomena:

IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY MANY ORGANIZATIONS OPERATE UNDER ONE OR MORE OF THESE CONDITIONS:

  • ·         request followed by refusal
  • ·         guidance followed by defiance
  • ·         rules broken without consequence
  • ·         leadership scorned or disregarded
  • ·         poor performance rewarded or nurtured
  • ·         bad attitudes ignored or avoided
  • ·         management afraid of employees
  • ·        insolence, tardiness, absenteeism, and laziness tolerated

(If you don’t see your favourite one on the list, please feel free to add it.)

Now is the time to take your business back! Now is the time to start a LEADERSHIP REVOLUTION and build organizations that will be able to withstand the onslaught of the financial recession and economic hardship that will continue well into the twenty-first century.

We cannot continue to be productive if we do not begin to hold our employees accountable for the work they do. I am not suggesting that we go back to the command and control management style of the fifties…I am suggesting that we temper servant leadership with effective accountability.

Leadership should not be about settling for less!

Leadership should be a combination of our currently understood principles of servant leadership tempered or fused with firmness, accountability and a respect for hierarchy.

We often compare the running of a business with coaching a team or commanding an army.

 When we make those comparisons however, we seem to forget that on a basketball team, if a player is insolent, disobedient or plays badly, he is benched or sent to the showers. The coach takes control and makes hard decisions for the betterment of his team. In the case of the military, if a soldier is insolent, disobedient or AWOL he is disciplined, court marshalled, or jailed.  In both cases, the performance of the entire team is placed in the paramount position and individual team members understand that they must do exactly as their leader instructs them or suffer the consequences. They know that their leader is in control and that his or her decisions are the best for the team.

You will probably never hear any suggestion that a tough but successful basketball coach is cruel or unfair, just as there is seldom any thought that a field commander is doing anything but the right thing when he brings a coward, a deserter or a mutineer up on charges. Hierarchy has worked amongst groups of human beings in mutual endeavours for eons and it will work in the twenty first century.

Please do not misunderstand me. I know that basketball teams and armies have different dynamics than industry, business or the public sector. With that in mind, we must accept that modern leaders cannot lead through intimidation, threats, unfair discipline, anger, rudeness or punishment.

If modern leaders want to be successful, they must retain control and generate maximum performance through strength and firmness while holding their employees accountable for their work. There must be measures in place that will allow leaders to exercise their control over their employees for the betterment and integrity of the team. Employees must understand that if they are not able to follow the fair and simple rules of their positions or are not able to show ordinary respect through things like consistently showing up on time, they will be held accountable and may be disciplined or terminated.  

Leaders need not set up an adversarial relationship with employee groups. If they simply outline fair and reasonable expectations to their people and gain their agreement, they will be able act responsibly in the future with little fear of criticism or discord. When employees understand the rules and those rules are monitored fairly and consistently, everyone benefits and everyone wins!

Communication and courage are the keys!

Let’s start a LEADERSHIP REVOLUTION! Let’s stop being afraid of our employees! Let’s stop settling for less! Let’s take our businesses back!

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl

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