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Autor: Tom Haak, Partner en Europa.


The expectations employees and other stakeholders have of leadership, are often too high. Often you hear: “Change has to start at the top” and “Leaders have to lead by example”. These types of statements can be paralyzing. If employees are waiting for instructions from the top and get demoralized if their leaders are not perfect human beings, organizations will be in bad shape.

Lowering expectations of leadership, and expecting more employee self-management, can be beneficial to organizations. Some remarks about leadership anyway, but please take the above into account.

Let’s use leadership- and management analytics 
If we can learn one thing from Google in the people domain, it is that it helps to use scientific findings, and to base your people interventions on a thorough evidence-based approach. Years ago, Google analyzed the characteristics of successful managers in their organization. They found a set of distinguishing Google management behaviors:

  1. Is a good coach.
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage.
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
  4. Is productive and results-oriented.
  5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance.
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team.
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team.
  9. Collaborates across Google.
  10. Is a strong decision maker.

No rocket science, but I assume if you encourage your people to use this list as guidance, you will certainly notice some improvement. Even better: do some solid research in your own organization and make your own list.

Situational leadership 
Situational leadership is an old concept (from the 1970s, developed by Hersey and Blanchard), that deserves attention also nowadays in the 21st century. Leadership is not one-size-fits all, but should be dependent on the characteristics of the people involved. Maturity and personality of employees is important, and also the nationality. There are vast differences between leadership among countries. On the “Hofstede Insights” website you can visualize the difference between the cultures in countries on the six cultural dimensions of  Hofstede.
I have done this, comparing Chile, Colombia, Peru and The Netherlands.

Source: “Hofstede Insights”

This graph shows, for example, that if I, as a Dutchman, would be a leader in Chile, I can certainly expect difficulties if I do not adapt my style. As an egalitarian and liberal Dutchman, with a focus on the long-term perspective, it could take a while before I have impact in a Chilean organization, which has notorious differences in terms of power distance, individualism and long-term orientation.

Tom Haak
Tom Haak es Director de HR Trend Institute (https://hrtrendinstitute.com).
HR Trend Institute sigue, detecta y empuja tendencias en el área de personas y organizaciones y áreas relacionadas. Cuando es posible, el instituto es también un líder en instalar tendencias. HR Trend Institute es partner de Gudcompany.


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