You’ve no doubt heard the saying “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses”.
The sort of boss we work for has a huge impact on the quality of our working life – and subsequently on our life as a whole. Anyone who has had an unreasonable or overbearing boss can attest to the negative repercussions of it – and for those of us lucky enough to have worked with enlightened leaders we will likely still be feeling the positive impact of the experience.
When we pan out to the organisational level we see that that the behaviour of its leaders has a defining impact on the culture of an organisation, with their behaviour setting the tone around what sort of behaviours are and are not acceptable. Whether interactions across an organisations are characterised by openness and respect or blame and criticism, will largely depend on the example that leaders set in the way that they interact with their teams.
So why does this matter? Research shows that as well as affecting employee engagement and performance, negative leadership behaviours can have a massive impact on employee stress levels and health. Data from a large study run by Anna Nyberg at the Karonlinska Institute shows that having a harsh boss is linked to heart problems in employees and to sickness in later life.
There is a tendency for organisations to focus on “well-being” initiatives to help reduce stress related illness. Whilst this is of course commendable, what actually makes the greatest difference to people’s effectiveness and engagement in demanding roles, is having a boss who is fair, provides role clarity, sets clear and reasonable expectations and ensures that the resources needed for them to perform their job well are secured for them.
Our greatest human need after food and shelter is social connection — positive social relationships with others. It’s the role of leaders to create environments characterized by positive and supportive interactions – with the starting point often being as simple as showing a genuine interest in the lives of those who work for them. Research demonstrates that leaders who are inspiring, empathic, and supportive have more loyal and engaged employees – in short they have employees who want to work for them.
You may be thinking that this “soft” stuff simply won’t get things done. To be clear – this isn’t about being a push over – it’s about consciously choosing the impact that you want to have; it’s about leading with authority, communicating frankly while remaining courteous and empathic; it’s about being the sort of human being that other human beings want to work with.
In the words of Maya Angelou “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forgot how you made them feel”.
So as a leader, as “the boss” – how do you want to make people feel, how do you want to be remembered – and what do you want your leadership legacy to be?
Boldly-Go works with senior execs and talented professionals who want to lead confidently and thrive in challenging roles. Get in touch to explore what you want to your leadership legacy to be. www.boldly-go.co.uk