Building leadership skills
The out-of-date approach to leadership is persistent since the dawn of the industrial age. When it comes to managing people in a work environment, the norm has been like any other input: ‘squeeze as much out of them as possible and pay them as little as possible’. According to Wharton Finance Professor, Alex Edmans, this idea was introduced nearly a century ago when the expansion of global economy largely was based on engineering machinery. Leaders had what subordinates didn’t. And each stayed put in their place. No questions asked and no answers sought.
Then and now
Workers were required to perform comparatively unchallenging tasks and were easily replaceable. Companies motivated workers primarily with money, paying by the piece to reward those who produced the most widgets. A hundred years ago, the average worker actually went to work in order to meet their most basic human needs – to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. In exchange for their work, they received money, and money alone was entirely sufficient. But things are really not the same today.
Frequently enough, employees feel that their supervisors and managers are the biggest obstacles in their paths to work contentment and performance. Such employees do not feel connected with their work on account of the disengagement with their leaders, resulting in dissatisfaction with work as well as their colleagues. A good leader can bring out the best out of the ordinary, while poor leadership fetches the worst of the most efficient employee.
New age leadership
Today’s world runs on the fuel of technology along with creativity and innovation. Archaic leadership principles today are insufficient to support the needs of the 20th century employee. Needs of human beings have changed. People ‘need’ more from work than a paycheck. Greater engagement, productivity and satisfaction come from contemporary leadership. People seek self-realization that sits atop the pyramid in Maslow’s hierarchy. People’s basic needs no longer drive them to perform to their optimum.
What people want from their superiors
Until few decades ago, very little attention was given by leaders to the needs of their subordinates. Focus was always on the task and its outcome. Success literally meant getting the job done. And if leadership succeeded, it owes much to the fact that employees expected little in return for work outside of pay. Today people need and expect more from work – the value exchange – has expanded appreciably requiring leaders to suitably adapt to the needs of their subordinates. Leaders now need to be mentors, to empathize, understand, compliment and partake in the existence of their subordinates. The work, the goals, the benchmarks and targets never matter as much as the difference one makes in the lives of those they touch. That demonstrates the true impact of leaders.