Today I read an interesting article in HR Zone talking about research linking styles of leadership and employee motivation – .

The conclusions are interesting and I am not the least surprised to know that this is what the research is telling us – I would actually say that it is blindingly obvious.  I wholeheartedly agree that what is required in these challenging times is, almost more than anything else, great leaders and great leadership – in the true sense of the word.

I fear that when the chips are down the style that becomes predominant is frequently management rather than leadership, even though it is not defined as that.  The definition that I use and am most comfortable with is “Outstanding managers drive people to perform at the highest level they are capable of and it is very much about control.  Outstanding leaders inspire them to do it for themselves and it is more about freedom”.  People at the top are highly likely to start driving people to do what they think is the best way to get more sales/increase margins/ improve customer service etc. etc.  Freedom to create and come up with new and fresh thinking gets stifled, true individual responsibility is suppressed, the stress levels rise and motivation drops further and further down.

The most outstanding leaders that I know and work with have the courage to truly develop great leaders at every level of the organisation – and prove its value by getting the results straight through to the bottom line.  They are very clear that frequently the style of management is required when in a turnaround situation and where people are crying out to be told what to do in as short a timeframe as possible.  They also know, very clearly, when to change that style and encourage creative thinking, ownership and a passion to excel.  That requires a very different style requiring different behaviours.  Without the behaviour changes it is all rhetoric and achieves nothing other than frustration and de-motivation everywhere.