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The East African : Sep 8th 2014
42 The EastAfrican BUSINESS SEPTEMBER 6-12,2014 MANAG E R How to deal with those who feel entitled By JOYCE E. A. RUSSELL Washington Post-Bloomberg RECENTLY, WHEN conducting an online chat for The Washington Post, some readers had asked me questions about why we have such an entitlement culture at work and what to do about it. Most definitions refer to entitlement as the belief that you deserve to be given something, such as special privileges. But some managers worry that Strong leadership is about conducting yourself in ways that communicate to others that you believe people are always more important than things. Picture: File der Gen. George Washington’s command, some 11,000 soldiers made their way to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Following the latest defeat in a string of battles that left Philadelphia in the hands of British forces, these tired, demoralised and poorly equipped early American heroes knew they now faced another devastating winter. Yet history clearly records that G≥eat leade≥ship isn’t about you T he year 1777 was not a particularly good time for America’s newly formed revolutionary army. Un- COMMENTARY JOHN MICHEL Leading people is about motivating them to share your enthusiasm for pursuing a shared ideal, objective, cause or mission. despite the harsh conditions and lack of equipment that left sentries to stand on their hats to prevent their feet from getting frostbite, the men who emerged from this terrible winter never gave up. Why? Largely because of the inspiring and selfless example of their leader, Washington. He didn’t ask the members of his army to do anything he wouldn’t do. If they were cold, he was cold. If they were hungry, he went hungry. If they were uncomfortable, he too chose to experience the same discomfort. The lesson of Washington’s pro- foundly positive example is that leading people well isn’t about driving them, directing them or coercing them; it’s about compelling them to join you in pushing into new territory. It’s about motivating them to share your enthusiasm for pursuing a shared ideal, objective, cause or mission. In essence, strong leadership is about conducting yourself in ways that communicate to others that you believe people are always more important than things. J. Donald Walters, in his insight- ful 2001 book, The Art of Leadership, provides a compelling example of how this perspective plays out on the battlefield. Walters points out, “The differ- ence between great generals and mediocre ones may be attributed to the zeal great generals have been able to inspire in their men. Some excellent generals have been master strategists, and have won wars on this strength alone. Greatness, however, by this very definition implies a great, expanded view. It transcends intelligence and mere technical competence. It implies an ability to see the lesser in relation to the greater; the immediate in relation to the long term; the need for victory in relation to the needs that will arise once victory has been achieved.” As a general myself, I can con- firm that achieving my mission, be it in training a new generation of capable men and women for service, promoting peace or achieving victory in combat, is paramount. Yet this doesn’t imply that I should blindly pursue my objectives at all costs. Walters’ wise words remind us that leadership — whether it’s exercised by a general in the military, an executive in the boardroom, a pastor serving a congregation or a parent providing for a family — isn’t about wielding power over people, but about finding ways to work with them. The most effective form of lead- ership is supportive. It’s collaborative. It’s never assigning a task, role or function to another person that we would not be willing to perform ourselves. For all practical purposes, leading well is as simple as remembering to remain others-centred instead of self-centred. To do this, I try to keep these four imperatives in mind: no matter how different they may be from your own: There’s ample evidence that the 1. most imaginative and valuable ideas tend not to come from the top of an organisation, but from within it. Be open to other opinions; what you hear may make the difference between being a good leader and ultimately becoming a great one. 2. Embrace and promote a spirit of selfless service: Whether they be employees, cus- tomers, constituents or colleagues, people are quick to figure out which leaders are truly dedicated to helping them succeed and which are only interested in promoting themselves at others’ expense. Be willing to put other people’s legitimate needs and desires first and trust that they will freely give you the best they have to give. know that they don’t have all the answers. Instead, they constantly welcome and seek out new knowledge and insist on tapping into the curiosity and imaginations of those around them. Take it from Albert Einstein: “I have no special talent,” he claimed. “I am only passionately curious.” Be inquisitive — bring out other people’s hidden genius using one wise question and courageous 3. Ask great questions: The most effective leaders Listen to other people’s ideas, conversation at a time. 4. Don’t fall prey to your own publicity: Spin and sensationalism is an attractive angle to take in today’s self-promoting society. Yet the more we get accustomed to seeking affirmation or basking in the glow of praise and adulation, the more we will dilute our objectivity, diminish our focus and believe that others exist to serve our needs. Be careful not to become prideful; you’ll only be setting yourself up to fail. Those who serve under an ef- fective general know well that he would ask nothing of others that he would not first do himself. Such a leader believes with all his heart that he is one with his people, not superior to them. The general knows that he’s simply doing a job. The need to re-imagine and re- cast how we think about leadership has never been greater. Too many of us have allowed our understanding of leadership to grow stagnant, and this has contributed to the many daunting problems our society faces. Now is the time to discover the leader within us all. Now is the time to accept that leadership is meant to be more verb than noun, more active than passive. Now is the time to remember that people — whether they work in politics, education, business or the military — are always more important than things. Are you game? Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Brig. Gen. John Michel is the commanding general of NATO Air Training Command in Afghanistan. He is a widely recognized expert in cultural, strategic, individual and organisational change. if they give rewards or recognition to employees, they will come to expect these rewards and feel entitled to them. In some cases, this is true, while in other cases, employees do not seem to act entitled. So what’s a manager to do? Here are tips for managing the issue: Be clear about job expecta- tions and rewards. And these rewards do not have to be given every single time a person does something noteworthy at work. Be clear about what you are willing to share. In today’s decentralised companies, many employees feel that they should have access to all information that the chief executive has access to. Of course, this can’t be the case as there is confidential information about employees, jobs and financials that they should not have access to. Ad- dress the issue with workers who act entitled. Talk with them to learn more about where this view has come from. Focus on getting them to change their behaviours (if needed) to be more aligned with your organisation’s goals. Implement a developmental feedback system so everyone can get accurate data. Document any improvement plan. Make sure employees get realistic feedback and develop an action plan. Help employees learn how to deal with failures and develop strategies for moving on. Make employees responsible for their own professional development plan. Rather than having managers write an employee’s plan, have the employee show initiative and take ownership for their progress. Russell is the vice dean and the director of the executive coaching and leadership development programme at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Some managers worry that if they give rewards, employees will come to expect these rewards.
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