Leadership carries considerable influence and responsibility within any organization. Leaders are challenged daily with how to manage this influence effectively. Communication plays a key role in this approach and can have significant impacts to the leader and their staff. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impacts of negative leadership behavior regarding communication and effects on the team as well as the overall organization. Experience with Negative Leadership Behavior Over my career, there have been negative leadership behaviors experienced with both direct mangers and senior management.
One of the most destructive is lack of communication. Recently, an executive manager was going to be out of the office for an entire week. This leader has four direct reports of which three are group leaders. The executive manager casually mentions to one of the direct reports that she will be out of the office the following week at a seminar. The direct report appropriately relays this information to their team supervisor to address any concerns or open issues in advance of this absence. The same communication was not made to the remaining three direct reports, in any form, by the executive manager.
As the business week of the absence began, the other three direct reports incur an issue & require assistance from the executive manager. These managers were rendered unproductive and left wondering when the leader was going to be in the office so that they can discuss the problem at hand. During subsequent discussions, the team supervisor aware of the absence is the one to notify the other three direct reports that their direct manager was out for the week. The gap in communication impacted the teams noted but also other service partners and finally the client due to the delays in resolving the issue timely.
It is also important to note that this is not an isolated incident but had happened previously having similar impacts to the same parties noted above. Analysis of Leadership Behavior The leadership behavior described in this experience appears straightforward at the surface but is far reaching in its impact to the firm. The leader showed consistent lack of personal integrity as well as respect and empathy for her staff by not relating her accessibility on a regular basis. It impacts the morale of the direct reports and deteriorates their working relationships & ability to collaborate.
The leader did not inform all direct reports of her absence. Without a collective knowledge, a subset of the larger reporting team was less effective and efficient during this time. This also created a gap in escalation when issues arose. Lastly it weakens the culture of inclusion. By being excluded, part of the management staff experienced a decrease in satisfaction subsequently affecting their overall performance. Attrition is a by product as well of this negative behavior. Supporting Research of Negative Leadership Behavior
“For it is character through which leadership is exercised, it is character that sets the example and is imitated in turn…. The more successfully tomorrow’s manager does his work, the greater will be the integrity required of him…. No matter what a man’s general education or his adult education for management, what will be decisive above all, in the future even more than in the past, is neither education nor skill; it is integrity of character” stated Drucker (1954) reiterating the important of reliability in leadership positions. Leading by example creates the ability for the team to tangibly see this character on a daily basis.
Additional leadership duties like consideration and management of emotions are becoming more important in the leader-membership interaction per Meike, Jacobs & Soares (2012). As these duties increase so will the need for leaders to develop empathetic skills with regard to their staff. This will include appreciation, trust and open communication. Per Fuller and Green (2005), leaders are responsible for embedding strategy in the organization by developing an excellent team, picking the right roles and allowing the rest of the team to make the strategic moves.
This requires teams that can function in unison with high level of collaboration. Lack of communication will cause a disjointed approach affecting the vision of the organization ultimately impacting the firm’s success. Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo and Sutton (2011) noted that transformational leaders are able to articulate a vision that emphasizes the way in which collective goals are consonant with follower values, causing followers to regard organizational goals as their own and submit extra effort toward goals and accomplishments. This sets the groundwork for a culture of inclusion within an organization. When strong
unified behavior, values and beliefs have been developed, a strong organizational cultures does emerge per Tsai (2011). Leaders have a primary role in growing and upholding the firm’s culture. It encourages performance and leads to long lasting job satisfaction. When this is not present, organizations will see increased conflict, reduced dialogue between managers and teams and a progressively dysfunctional environment. According to social identify theory, unfair treatment from supervisors may arouse a negative identification which in turn leads employees’ negative behaviors in organizations as outlined by Duan, Lam, Chen and Zhong (2010).
This emphasizes the pattern of negative leadership behavior that has the ability to funnel throughout the entire organization is not addressed. Recommendation for Strengthening Leadership Behavior Leadership is a dynamic, ever changing role and requires the leader to be aware of her own behavior and the potential impacts of this behavior on the team. In this situation, the leader needs to understand the value of leading by example. For the team to utilize the leader for her depth of knowledge and broader perspective, a level of reliability needs to be established.
From a time management standpoint, simple steps like sharing the leader’s calendar with direct reports could alleviate this issue on a go-forward. This type of planning and organization will benefit the leader as well as the staff’s perception of her abilities and character. Interpersonal skills like active listening, feedback and conflict resolution are critical as well for any leader. Being able to engage her direct reports and the larger staff in a meaningful way will allow for the team dynamic to shift to a positive state.
These relationships can be developed through mentoring and engaging the direct reports in projects or other work the leader is responsible for providing insight to her managers of the next level and current challenges of the firm. This end to end view develops the direct reports as well as building a more full bodied relationship with the leader. The impact to the organization also needs a voice n acknowledging the effects of this negative behavior. The leader is accountable for the resulting impacts of any action they take while representing the firm.
In this case, the lower performance and higher attrition are concrete costs to the organization. The leader needs to answer for the consequences ofher behavior to a higher power like senior management, stock holders or similar. Conclusion Negative leadership behavior comes in many forms and lack of communication is one of the most pervasive. This paper provides an example of this type of negative leadership and the effects to the staff and organization. It also provides an outline of productive steps to modify the leader’s behavior and limit the adverse impacts in the future.
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