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|Leadership Development: Turn On Your Employees
The concept of leadership
development is not new. Over the last few decades, many
scholars and business leaders have written books, articles, and
curriculum on this topic. So, why another article? Simply put,
the message isn't getting to front line supervisors who can
energize employees to exceed your expectations.
During the first eight months of 2005, the Center for
Management and Organization Effectiveness sent out surveys to
327 employees, to evaluate 117 supervisors before these
supervisors attended a leadership
development workshop. The employees were asked to give their
opinions to what their supervisors were doing right; and in what
areas could their supervisors improve. Twelve companies and
agencies participated in these survey evaluations representing
the fields of banking, education, government, manufacturing, and
sales. The data showed a definite trend. The main categories
dealt almost exclusively with how the leaders interacted with
their employees. The table below represents the area of
leadership the 327 employees listed as concerns.
**Topic Area **Number of Respondents listing the topic
Support, Respect, Trust, and Commitment- 274
Coaching, Feedback, and Training- 217
Availability and Access- 104
Job Knowledge, Preparation before meetings, and Technical
Integrity, Work Ethic- 99
The following is a sampling of what the employees said in their
written responses. Notice the emotional frustration in those
employees who responded negatively.
* "He needs to work on being more sensitive to the feeling of
those who work with him. He can sometimes act and speak without
thinking it through, coming off to harsh. He is very good at
making us feel stupid from time to time."
* "She also unintentionally will interrupt people in the
middle of their sentences. Has a tendency to blame those people
under her direction when mistakes happen or things aren't done
the way they should have been. Blaming leads to lack of trust
and respect from your employees.
* "Mr. xx could use a little more patience and understanding.
He tends not to listen to your entire problem before reacting."
* [My leader needs to:] "1. Stop gossiping. 2. Respect
coworkers. 3. Be more willing to listen. 4. Assist team in
moving up within the company, realize nobody will be on her team
* "Excludes me from meeting with peers and partners, initiates
no discussion on employee work plan or any other plan of mutual
design, does not promote an atmosphere of trust and honest
communication, steamrolls, back-stabs and embarrasses me in
long-standing relationships with others on routine business
without initiation of any communication with me before hand."
While we note that some employees gave their managers praise,
the traits the employee deemed most important continued to be
the quality of the manager's interaction with the employee,
respect, support, and trust.
* "[He] is a unique manager. It is a pleasure to work for him.
His style is unlike any I have previously experienced, but he is
excellent at achieving goals, (his way)."
* "[She] sends follow up emails after a discussion, outlining
the steps/actions we agreed upon. I find this very helpful. Her
open door is always inviting. She stops working and gives her
full attention during any conversation. Her calm demeanor and
excellent verbal communication gives me a secure and confident
feeing that she is there to help me."
* "[He] is, and should continue to be a leader on the team.
During team meetings, he offers valuable opinions, realistic
objections and almost always has several good suggestions for
improvements. [He] is also a very humble and charismatic person.
These traits help him get his points across because he is not
overly dominant or forceful about his opinions. [His] motto
seems to be that his
way is not 'the' way, only 'another' way,
which is very constructive and assuring."
* "[He] leads by example; he is energetic, positive, and
inclusive. He gives and accepts constructive criticism when
necessary -always in a positive manner. He is sensitive when it
comes to the feelings of others and while he has high
expectations of his staff, he is always available to help us
meet those expectations."
* "This person maintains a level hand that is unflappable under
pressure. He will help when asked and gives his training and
coaching time to anyone who asks as his time allows. He asks
your opinion on things that are going on, topics of interest
related to our work. He is very knowledgeable about our
processes and procedures and shares this knowledge on a regular
So what did this survey tell us?
First, employees want to be respected, their ideas listened to,
and appreciated for the work they do. They want to know that
their supervisor considers them as a valuable part of the
company. In other words, they want to be members of a successful
Secondly, people want training, feedback, and coaching on how to
do their jobs better, more efficiently, and more effectively. In
short, the success of the team, department, or business is very
important to them. For many employees, it boils down to a sense
of pride to be a viable member of a team.
Thirdly, for employee success, effective communication is not
the same as being told what to do. People want to know that they
will be listened to, that their ideas will be accepted or at
least considered. They know the processes and probably have good
ideas about streamlining work. They also need to be clear as to
the nature of their tasks; they don't want to make mistakes any
more than you want them to. Fourthly and finally, accessibility
to their supervisor is critical for employees. Whether due to
attitude, hierarchy, or too much work that impedes contact,
employee can begin to feel disconnected with management or out
of touch with the grand scheme of the business. They may begin
to feel like commodities, bowing to unyielding management
dictates rather than cooperative judgments that will make their
processes easier, more efficient, and often safer. They may
think that the most important task is just to get the job done,
good or bad. Think how easily one disgruntled or disinterested
worker can sabotage the success of the whole team. It's the
little things they do either consciously or unconsciously in
your department that cause expenses to rise, work to be
disrupted, or even loss of customers.
These findings are not suggesting that some managers are too far
away to see or listen to issues. Rather, we think this data is
saying that employees want to be engaged, trusted, and
responsible for their contributions. The also want to share in
the benefits of being linked to a successful business. The
manager, by unleashing employee motivation and ingenuity, can
turn his or her attention to the future, strategic planning, and
interfacing with other teams. The team member (employee), by
taking ownership of his or her tasks feels he or she is an equal
and important partner to the success of the team. This breeds
pride and pleasure in a job well done. In other words, they want
to be a part of the future.
development can show managers how to capitalize on these
needs and guide employees into effective team members and build
a strong cohesive team that can accomplish more than today's
tasks, it can prepare for the future.
About the author:
Martha Rice is a design team leader for the Center for Management and
Organization Effectiveness. She has degrees in both English
and Communication and over twenty five years experience in
To learn more about how to use effective leadership development,
building partnerships for success, or coaching to include your
employees in the success of your department or com