This is Leadership: The spread effect

This is Leadership: Leader reflections

“Doing the things that are nice to do, but if everyone else does it create a mess at the workplace.”

I won’t try talking economics. But related to my concept of spread effect at the workplace is the economics concept of the backwash and spread effects proposed by Swedish Economist Gunnar Myrdal which summarized that development at one place, spreads to new and connecting areas. In effect, development of defined areas causes human capital as well as physical capital to evolve. This is where I adopted the term spread effect into the workplace.

Attitude has a spread effect. When attitude is stashed at one place, it spreads sporadically to new and connecting areas and catches like wildfire when it becomes stable. It has a positive or a negative effect. Attitude is transmissible and very contagious. Negative attitudes are cancerous and oncogenic.

Unfortunately, good attitude doesn’t spread as fast as bad attitude. Because people fail to address bad attitude as quickly as they should, teams catch it quickly as they could and it spreads like raging fire which has the power to burn down values established in institutions built on high morals.

You must learn to voice out on the things that matter. You kill your soul and you kill the values of your institution if you shut up on the things that matter at the workplace. ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’. Martin Luther King Jnr, said it and I’m just an advocate.

The spread effect in its negative sense as it pertains to the workplace and people management are the things you do which seem okay to do, but if everyone else does same, create a mess and subsequently destroy the institution’s values.

For example, if an institution has a strict dress policy of wearing a white shirt to work on Mondays and you choose to wear a red. It appears okay because it is just one person. Now, what if other colleagues choose to learn from you and everyone wears a red shirt on the next Monday? What happens?

The institution’s values and identity, if you like, shall be disregarded and burnt. In another example, imagine if a colleague turns a radio on at his desk and another decides to also play music in her corner, then the rest of the team decide in their individual and collective capacities to listen and watch programmes via their mobile telephones, imagine how the workplace would be like? The workplace would be turned into a market place.

The spread effect should be positive and leaders must instill that. The negative spread effect destroys values, attitudes and teams. You can apply spread effect positively where performing employees become shining examples to other employees and are promoted and transferred to other departments and branches to influence bigger teams positively.

Leaning towards the spread effect, I have a special eye during selection and recruitment process. After meeting all criteria set for a role, I look out for attitude, integrity and I like professionals who are or were once into sports. For example, I have a recruitment programme: M.A.L.T (Mentoring And Leadership Training), which produces best of talents for organisations. Recruits are fresh from school with raw talents but fine brains. I mould them and give them opportunities.

Here, their systems appear fresh and unblemished because they are not coming with any adulterated attitude from previous workplaces. I know if you fill people in with rubbish be ready to get rubbish back. GIGO as they say. Garbage in garbage out. With this in mind, I always have a responsibility to build in them, an engine that should go a long haul.

The flipside is that, I have to learn to be patient, be ready for mistakes, constant training and retraining, coaching and mentoring. But that is the whole idea anyway. In my mind and in practice, I know that a fresh car can go for a long while than an old car with baggage and problems. The beauty of the whole exercise is that, when the trainees take off, they exude positive vibration and they release positive spread effect.

On your way to leadership development, constantly calibrate to reduce negative spread effects while you increase activities that have the predilection to grow positive effects in your institution. This is because, the resources at the workplace is the knowledge of the people and not the beauty of the offices.

The team is the brand of the institution. That’s why I have a personal commitment to invest in training and development of teams than to embark on brand hype. Leadership is about decisions and choices. You always have to decide. In effect, I always want to ensure that the experience is higher than the expectation. This is why I like the spread effect. Build a confident positive forward-looking team.

It’s one of your cardinal principles on your way to leadership development to abjure and if possible kill negative spread effect. Good luck and thank you for reading Your journey to the top.

Leave a Reply