Companies of all kinds focus on corporate culture and leadership as a fundamental concept necessary for success. Everyone talks about leadership, everyone wants it, and everyone says they prioritize it.
But why is it important?
We all know leadership – good or bad – when we experience it. Leadership runs throughout an organization and can either make it or break it. Leadership is often associated with C-suite job titles, but it is not as much about their roles as it is affected by their thoughts, believes and behaviors. The view on people is the foundation for the way of leading the organization and the corporate culture is constructed of the sum of all individual mindsets and consequent behavior.
There are many different ideas of what a leader is as well as different variations and different types of leadership. As we have worked in many different segments, industries, countries, and companies, we have been able to observe some trends that seem to be common. Despite all the differences in leadership styles there is we see it as they could largely be described as two broad concepts of leadership philosophies. The authoritarian/task-oriented and the result-oriented leadership style.
All the concepts that are to organise and lead work or development in teams need to take on the task to get the different team members to understand their contribution to the teams’ task. It is not a secret that there are different ways of creating understanding or an inner picture that works as a guiding light to the members of the team. Such a picture can consist of an instruction or a request to do a task. The leader conveys a message through an explanation, a picture, or what he or she wants to achieve. Another way of creating a picture of what is to be accomplished is to clarify what needs to be achieved. In that case the aim replaces the instruction as a means of control. The purpose of both ways is to create understanding about what is to be carried out. We have all seen examples of top-tier managers who work efficiently but don’t lead in any meaningful sense, they keep things running smoothly but don’t motivate or inspire their coworkers. Neither of the previous mentioned styles are very motivating or inspiring styles of leadership and giving orders or driving your coworkers using different KPIs does not work particularly well any longer.
We stand before a new era where the traditional leadership concepts are no more adequate. This has, for a long time, been apparent to many leaders, and, not least, to the co-workers, in most of the companies. Today’s challenges need to be dealt with in a new, systematic, and modern way, as it is clear that the dominating leadership concepts are not designed to handle today’s situations. During the last couple of decades the increasing globalisation, the ultra- fast information technology, the demographic changes, the financial and political insecurity, and the expectations of the new generations, have radically changed the prerequisites for leadership. The probability that leaders can direct the desired development of the organisation by taking the right decision themselves, assign clear tasks, and follow them up thoroughly, must be deemed as non-existent.
The absolute majority of leaders try to come to terms with the immense and variable challenges using well-tried work methods like, for example, giving orders, reprimanding, pressuring, challenging, correcting, intimidating, hassling, enticing, goal setting, or convincing. With your hand on your heart, is it likely that such a leadership would induce people to perform their best? Or rather, do you personally need such a manager to be able to perform your best?
We have asked the question how people would like to be seen by the manager in 54 different countries and no matter what country, industry, level in the organization we asked the question the answer was the same. Everyone wants to be seen as reliable, wanting to do their best, competent, respected, involved, etc. In a modern way of working, it is necessary to honor these views, or the result will be the same as for the two outdated leadership styles. Instead of giving orders or measuring the performance with predefined KPIs we need to involve everyone to jointly find the solution, it is not until we have the groups acceptance of a solution that we will see true results.