Ever wonder what it is that makes some bosses genuine leaders and others awful? I have had the opportunity to work for a number of bosses with qualities that ranged from Ghandi to...well, someone without qualities. As a social worker and a manager, I could not help but try and determine what it was that made each of those individuals so different. I often wondered whether formal training, personal experience or professional experience determined whether a person in a leadership position actually led or failed to lead.
So in college, I decided I could start by taking some management courses to see what it was all about. After completing these courses, I was left baffled that the practices I was taught such as participative decision-making, employee empowerment, encouraging creativity, etc. seemed to be as far from many bosses' way of thinking as being humble is to Gov. Rod Blagojovich. So, I deduced, formal training must be the answer. Aside from MBAs and MPAs, how many professions actually teach their students to be managers. Not many.
Then, as I began my career as a manager I realized that many crappy mangers did have formal training. They even talked a great game by quoting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, displaying a sense of humor and pretending to have the employees interests at heart. Then, sure enough, they revealed themselves. They didn't actually practice what they preached. They gossiped about employees, they berated people in public and laughed off ideas that challenged their own beliefs. This can't be right, I thought to myself.
So, I offer a very subjective theory to you. There are a plethora of reasons that some managers use effective leadership tools while others seem to simply admire their self-perceived power and control. Training is certainly a factor. Also, the need for control is a very dangerous cause of mismanagement. Some people just have no business being responsible for other people, yet they tend to find jobs in management. I use the word perceived a moment ago because there is no such thing as controlling people. The last of people control ended with the civil war. It simply doesn't exist in civilized nations. If it is attempted, people will retaliate either actively or passively. But they will retaliate.
The fact is, you can't be a leader without followers. People in leadership positions must think creatively about getting the most out of their employees.