Most of us have experienced many different types of leaders throughout our career. In turn, we have then been able to take away the good qualities and demonstrate them within our own leadership opportunities. Additionally, we are also reminded of the ones we never want to duplicate, and do our very best to ensure they are never identified as one of our own leadership traits.
The one leadership behavior that has confused me the most, has been the one of the “easy” leader. This individual can best be described as the one who checks in from time to time and appears to agree with any new initiatives you might have. The “easy” leader will not micro-manage you, but will hold you accountable to deadlines. They are the leader you enjoy working for and makes going to work fun. They appear to resemble a stronger leadership association to “consideration behavior”. This type of behavior is “essentially relationship behaviors and include building camaraderie, respect, trust and liking between leaders and followers” (Northouse, P.G.). As opposed to “initiating structure” where “behaviors are essentially task behaviors, including such acts as organizing work, giving structure to the work context, defining role responsibilities, and scheduling work activities” (Northouse, P.G.)
You might be wondering, “what’s wrong that”; isn’t this the leader everyone wants to work for? Or are they? My question is, “do they trust you, or are they disengaged with you?” For example, if they aren’t actively scheduling time with you, but rather waiting for you to approach them with new ideas and issues, do they even care about what you are doing? Are they concerned with elevating your performance, or do they expect you to elevate your own? They could be seen as a leader who believes in you, and knows you are going to push yourself regardless. Knowing this might allow them to spend more time coaching your fellow colleagues who might need it more, resulting in less time spent with you. Or, they simply don’t see the value you bring to the table, and instead are disengaged with trying to coach you and are hoping you might move on, rather than being forced to terminate your employment.
My hope is the “easy” leader can be compared to the parent of several children, of which the child who gets into more trouble is the child who will require more attention. The parent realizes the other child(ren) have an understanding of what needs to be done, and how they need to behave. They do not discount the other child(ren) on purpose, but rather trust they have the skills to maintain accountability and behaviors. Ideally this is the same mentality showcased by the “easy” leader.
Regardless, it’s extremely important that leaders always maintain good communication with their followers regarding performance expectations, and is supported by the behaviors they display. Allowing a follower to question their worth, could ultimately lead to the loss of a valuable employee from an organization. In 2018 employers are competing to maintain top talent, and they can’t afford to dismiss the positive reinforcement due to such employees.
Northouse, P.G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. p72