I write articles on leadership and management with one goal: to help others become more mindful and caring leaders. Science and clinical study support this modern idea of leadership. Volumes of research are published in academic journals each month, showcasing the positive outcomes of these new forms of practice. What were once fringe ideas offered by singular gurus of their day – servant leadership, emotional intelligence, mindful leadership – now have the solid backing of science and rigor.
The old days of strong-willed, discipline-focused, top-down, do-as-I-say leadership is over. For many in leadership positions, however, letting go of the old ways can be difficult, especially when they seemed to have worked so well in the past. Times change, people change, and so does leadership. Ask any keenly observant and adaptive manager today, and they will tell you that the new generation of laborers and college graduates expect a very different hand than the ones you and I were dealt.
The most viewed article I have written on the topic of leadership and management has been read more than 33,000 times, according to LinkedIn’s analytics. Even to this day I receive an occasional email from a reader offering their experiences on the topic and validating what I shared. The article’s title says everything you need to know about the subject: “How Fast Should You Leave a Bad Boss? Sooner Than You Think!”
The article is not actually addressed to leaders and managers. Well, it is, but not directly so. When I wrote the article, I addressed it to people suffering from the burden and negativity of working for bad bosses. My intention, however, was to show the importance of good leadership that is employee-centric, mindful and caring. Because, to be frank, employee turnover, poor performance, and the loss of trust and cooperation are not the result of poor employees but the result of poor bosses, or rather, bad bosses.
Bad bosses are the number one problem in the American workplace. If you are a leader, chances are high that you probably aren’t a very good one. In fact, chances are also high that at this very moment at least 10 to 15 percent of your workforce is actively seeking other employment. The percentage that could easily walk away for even a modest pay increase is much higher.
Many leaders today consider this a loss of loyalty, a lack of integrity, or some other fault on the part of the employee. But the data tells us that it is the unhappy employee who first lost trust and found fault in their leader. Data supports this. Employees move where they think they will get along better with their supervisors (while also getting good pay for their labor). Sometimes, the move works out. Often, however, it does not.
This issue of turnover, dissatisfaction with leadership, and poor communication and relations with management has become an increasingly serious issue in today’s workforce and labor market. Why? Because unemployment is at record lows and employers are starting to have increased difficulty in recruiting and retaining good labor. That means, if you’re one of those inflexible, maladaptive, bad bosses, your turnover rate is about to increase, and your pool of good prospects is becoming smaller.
Start treating your employees with care and appreciation. Recognize that YOU are the difference between poor performance and stellar performance, not as a wielder of power, but as a wielder of heart and hand. Make them partners in your work, and sharers in your success. Open your world to the idea that effective leadership is not about taking charge of the people who work for you, but working for the people who have chosen to follow you.