The other day we tried a nearby restaurant that recently opened. The manager greeted us when we entered and then he walked to the back and chewed out the waitress in plain sight. We stood there embarrassed, trying to figure out if we needed to be seated or order at the register. The waitress ran right past me with big tears in her eyes. Later, after we sat down, I heard the manager in the kitchen yelling “I’m not being mean; I’m a good teacher and coach! Nobody wants direction anymore”. I wrote it on a napkin so I wouldn’t forget his exact words.
The Ohio State Leadership Studies of the 1950s identified two main factors or leadership behaviors – initiating structure and consideration. This restaurant incident is an example of initiating structure – a manager defining actions and how tasks should be accomplished. Consideration refers to interpersonal and relationship behaviors such as being friendly, approachable, treating others as equals, and showing concern for people’s welfare. It was not demonstrated.
In terms of emotional intelligence, one of the most popular leadership concepts today, this manager seems low in social skills (i.e., managing relationships to achieve desired outcomes) as well as empathy (i.e., understanding other’s feelings). These are two of the five original dimensions of EQ identified by Daniel Goleman.
A long history of leadership research exists. I see the various theories, models and frameworks building on each other, providing different perspectives, and serving as mirror pieces in the kaleidoscope for analyzing it. The value is that defining the behavior is a good first step to improving the behavior. It is handy to know a variety of ways to conceptualize leadership because situations differ and one size does not fit all.
Would love to hear your thoughts on leadership and its development.