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It’s Time for a New Style of Leadership
By Frank Sonnenberg
It’s time for a new style of leadership. Today’s employees wants to work for an organization that they can feel proud of: an organization that has values and viewpoints compatible with their own; an organization that is oriented toward the long haul, working toward the prevention of ills, not just curing the symptoms; an organization that cares about morals and ethics, doing what is in the best interests of its clients; and an organization that cares about the impact it has on the environment. Employees want this because they recognize that such an organization will also care about them.
This new breed of employees knows that the kind of organization just described conducts a never-ending search for the best and brightest people; that it encourages managers to develop their people both personally and professionally; that it recognizes and rewards employees for their unique contributions; that it delegates responsibility not just accountability. They want to work for a company where they are encouraged to make a meaningful contribution; where procedures, policies, and paperwork are never more important than results; and where building bonds between people is considered as important as the bottom line. How do we get there you ask?
It’s time for a new style of leadership. Workers do not respond well to micromanagement or to being treated like cogs in a wheel. In order to increase workforce productivity, management has learned various theories, techniques, and approaches that are believed to motivate employees. But they are all based on the fundamental premise that it is management’s role to do the motivating–– that is, it is up to management to push employees toward certain behaviors or to control them in a certain way. Management can reward employees by giving them a promotion, a raise, or a pat on the back; they can reprimand, discipline, or fire them; they can create rules and procedures that give selected individuals the authority to make decisions over a minimum threshold. Or, managers can earn the respect of their colleagues through their expertise, their personal integrity, and their ability to foster trust. While reward, punishment, and authority come with an individual’s position, the most effective forms of management––respect, expertise, and trust—reside in the person and are earned over time.
Successful leaders know that today’s motivational techniques may satisfy employees only long enough to achieve short-term goals. If you supplement today’s forms of employee motivation by instilling a belief in your organization’s mission and stress the importance of every employee’s contribution, you bring about commitment that motivates people forever. The question is, “Is it possible to create this kind of environment and strive for market leadership?” The answer is, “You don’t have much of a choice.”