What do the following two quotes say about leadership?
- “People leave managers not companies.”
- “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
Now while you ponder the meaning of those, consider this:
In a poll of over 1 million workers in the US, Gallup found that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of a bad boss or immediate supervisor. More specifically, they found around 75% of people who voluntarily left their jobs chose to do so based on their bosses and not the actual position.
In reading this data, I felt compelled to figure out what type of boss I am and according to BuzzFeed, I’m a Michael Scott.
I can see your puzzled look even through the screen (not unlike Michael’s).
Being Michael Scott
Let’s go back to where we started: the leadership quotes. The first quote is from the above-mentioned reputable research firm and the second is from the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
While both quotes make points about people and office behaviors, they leave a lot up to the imagination in terms of practicality. Both also leave the glaring question of “why?” in two different senses: one from the employee’s perspective and one from the boss’s perspective.
From the findings that most people voluntarily leave their jobs because of their bosses, it’s clear that ineffective leaders create, or at least perpetuate, turnover. This, combined with a multitude of leadership moments that employees are facing daily, postulates that our leaders have multiple moments to navigate leadership effectively (…or ineffectively…) to impact reports’ happiness at work.
The power of an effective manager
So… workers leave their jobs because of their managers. Why? Because managers may not know how to navigate leadership moments.
Putting many of his botched leadership moments aside, Michael does want his employees to respect him and enjoy working with him. He wants to make a positive impact in their day to day and he ultimately cares about their successes. (Well, except for maybe Toby but he’s the worst.)
So… Michael (or insert any leader) wants his employees to be “afraid of how much they love” him. Why? Because he gains affection, attention, and credibility from those around him and is able to lead effectively with the support from his employees.
In terms of behavior then, the question morphs from “why?” into “how do we help employees handle these many leadership moments?” The answer to this question will bridge the gap between employees leaving their bosses and their bosses leading effectively.
Determining your leadership style
If you are up for a longer, more-effective version of this BuzzFeed quiz, a multi-radar assessment is the way to go. Developing your leadership presence takes insight into current behaviors in business, reflection, people, society, ingenuity, and diversity. Mapping specific behaviors that help to increase your presence and taking steps to authentically interact in every leadership moment can help move the needle into effective leading and better employee engagement.
Along those lines, being able to know and manage yourself goes a long way when leading a team directly or indirectly. Leadership skills are not refrained for the person with ‘manager’ or ‘director’ in their title. They are for every person at every level of the organization because we know an indirect manager, say a more senior person on a team or someone with more experience, leads just as much as the director above them.
Here’s another applicable Michael Scott quote that I think we can all relate to: “And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.”
Establishing credibility in a team doesn’t always mean you have all the answers. There are key formations in trust, communication and commitment to the people around you that can aid in leadership presence and ultimately the navigation of a leadership moment.
Something else to keep in mind, for these behavior changes to truly take place, sustainment is key. Having a learning experience in a virtual setting or in-person does a lot to provide the necessary tools, but returning to the same desk and the same problems can perpetuate the existing behavior. Changing thought and environment is what it takes to changes behavior.
Being able to navigate leadership moments successfully from an individual contributor up to the C-level helps to develop people, leads to less turnover, and makes for better working relationships. Our ultimate goal is for the worker/boss relationship is trusting, open, and reliable.
I’ll close with this: “An office is a place where dreams come true.”
P.S. Some of the other outcomes for the BuzzFeed leader style quiz were Thanos, Gordon Ramsey and Walter White. So I think Michael Scott is one of the better bosses (no matter how much I love Master Chef Junior and Breaking Bad). I also suppose you can’t fill out a Buzz Feed quiz without at least one mention of The Office. And for this I am grateful.
Want to take this quiz yourself? Try it here and report back!