Leadership: the why versus the what

1524.jpgJune 2008 | By Javier Roza, Professor of HR Management at IE Business School
Management comprises much more than simply exercising the authority that goes with the position. It is about gaining the respect of a business organization, and motivating employees by winning their trust.

Business management can be considered from different standpoints. Take the most superficial and egomaniacal form, for example, that of the autocratic, insecure director (not leader) who needs and uses the power given to him by his post. He or she sees the firm as his property and employees tend to be seen as inferior beings of lesser intelligence the lower their place on the organisation chart, or people who (by default) have bad intentions which range from inaction to sabotage. The assumptions on which this view is based come from the hobbian idea of man, typical in preindustrial society and still visible in many companies.

Of course, in order to survive a company must be capable of managing the resources that allow it to give its employees and shareholders fair pay, as well as having access to investment to keep its activity competitive, all this through the satisfaction of its customers, users and consumers.

But to achieve this in the 21st century, a time of the greatest intellectual capacity in the history of the human race, we can no longer apply models based on ignorance. Today, if we treat employees as inferior beings, we will only obtain disinterest and cynicism as a response. However, if we treat all employees as intelligent beings who know what they are doing in their job and we give them the information they need to be able to take the right decisions at their level, we shall obtain at the very least greater organisational efficiency since decision and subsequent action will be taken at all levels including the lowest possible, increasing speed and adaptation to the market. We will also see greater enthusiasm and commitment, both based on respect. People are loyal to people, not to abstract entities.

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