I recently read Principles by Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund firm Bridgewater Associates. In the book, Ray Dalio mentions how he created baseball cards of his employees. These baseball cards detailed individual employees’ traits, Meyers-Briggs Trait Inventory traits, strengths, and weaknesses (Dalio, 2017). Ray Dalio placed his employees in positions according to their strengths and weaknesses in order to get the most out of them. Dalio made the baseball cards available to his executives and department managers so that they could work around employee-work barriers. Indirectly, Ray Dalio implemented the path-goal theory to his organizational policy.
The path-goal theory aims to use different methods in order to motivate followers (Northouse, 2016). Followers of the path-goal theory use the following four leadership behaviors: directive leadership, participative, achievement-oriented, and supportive. Directive leadership aims to set standards and give specific orders to followers. Participative leadership encourages followers to be a part of the decision making process (Northouse, 2016). Achievement-oriented leadership focuses on challenging their followers, while supportive leadership focuses on being approachable and making “work pleasant for followers” (Northouse, 2016, p. 117). The idea behind path-goal theory is to use any of the listed leadership behaviors in order to motivate employees.
What I like about implementing the baseball card idea in workplaces is how managers and executives are openly aware of individuals’ strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits. The thing that makes it even better is that supposed ‘flaws’ aren’t seen as flaws; the cards simply help managers work around peoples’ personalities. For example, I have a worker in my shop who is extremely shy, little to no confidence, and hates the spotlight then I would put all of this information on his baseball card. I would have a physical reminder of how I should treat this individual. I don’t push him too hard and I don’t put him in positions where the spotlight will be on him. I compliment him just enough, but not often, so that he believes its genuine and accepts it. (I’ve noticed he hates getting compliments because he feels like he’s unworthy, so I learned not to compliment him too much or it’ll actually irritate him). In the military, it’s very easy to pick on guys like him in order to force them to break them out of his shell, except I don’t think that sort of behavior is all that effective. In this way, I feel the supportive leadership behavior should be implemented instead in organizations. Because the path-goal theory is so complex, I feel the most effective way to properly exhibit the theory’s leadership behaviors is for leaders to create baseball cards. Of course there might be some disagreement and criticism on the use of the cards, but it’s important that their use is only for good intentions: to find a way to properly motivate employees so they reach higher potentials and reach higher productivity levels for the organization.
Dalio, R. (2017). Principles: Life and Work. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc