….Leadership behavior for corporate response
“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven”. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
The word Pharisee here is used literally to refer to the selected few of the ‘holier than thou’ haughty attitude present in our modern-day corporate space. The Jews who heard Him (Jesus) make such statements would have wondered if that was even possible. These were the words of Jesus Christ.
It’s actually much harder to create an alignment between words, actions and rewards than it might seem. Indeed, the old saying of actions speaking louder than words holds true in every situation. It’s not enough for leaders to point their team in the right direction. They need to blaze the trail and clear the path for others. That is, setting a good example doesn’t require grand gestures or enormous displays but the little actions and behaviours which employees notice.
Someone who wants to rise to a position of leadership so they can tell others what to do will not be a good leader. Such people will only get their team to act out of fear, not out of belief in a vision. True leadership comes from being a servant to those you are to lead. Servant leaders look to influence others positively, helping them achieve their goals while becoming leaders themselves. Those who want to serve rather than dominate will find more followers and more fulfillment.
Leadership being a process wherein someone motivates and inspires others to follow them brings to attention the need for solid leadership that helps teams and organisations thrive and be successful. However, successful leaders are defined by the behaviours they exhibit as they lead. These behaviours determine if followers are motivated and inspired by them, or merely follow because they have to. Here, leadership traits remain an integral part of how a leader is perceived and how he/she operates.
Indeed, “There are no bad teams or organisations, only bad leaders”, as Jocko Willink explains. Without the right preparation, experience and leadership behaviours, executives and managers won’t understand what it takes to lead a team. Anyone can talk about doing great things. However, an effective leader is someone who actually goes out and does it. Again, John Maxwell hinted that: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” and effective leaders set an example for others to follow. If all a leader does is talk without following through on what they say, people will quickly notice and correctly point out that the leader is hypocritical.
Therefore, as we study leadership behaviour and the practices of some leadership figures in what pertains in our present-day corporate world, the question of who the modern-day Pharisees are is of great essence in dealing with pharisaic leadership nature in our corporate leadership space of today. As Socrates puts it, there is only one good, knowledge; and one evil, ignorance; and I will tell you what to hate, hypocrisy; hate indolence, oppression and injustice; hate Pharisaism, hate them as Christ hated them with a deep, living, god-like hatred. Frederick William Robertson added, “Let’s do Corporate Maturity, leadership behaviour for corporate response”.
Leadership behaviour consists of a leader’s actions, values and characteristics, which dictate how effectively they work with those on their team. Leadership behaviours determine how they guide others to reach goals and improve themselves. Sometimes, the behaviours of a leader are innate; but most of the time a leader must learn which behaviours get the best results through experience and training.
Leadership behaviours are the combination of specific characteristics leaders have and the actions they take. Strong leadership behaviours make someone an effective leader. Negative leadership behaviours can undermine leaders’ credibility and make them less convincing, effective and inspiring.
The leaders’ behaviours are supposed to motivate and inspire others toward an aspirational vision. How a leader behaves around others goes a long way in measuring their influence on team members. A leader who constantly bosses others around and tries to push their authority onto others will likely receive a negative reaction. However, a leader who shows effective leadership skills and genuineness will influence others positively, which eventually will produce increased job satisfaction, higher engagement rates, greater profitability and more effective leaders at every level within the company.
Nonetheless, there are the hypocritical leaders. These leaders pretend to do good things and say good things about others. They strive for goodness, but they are either just bad inside or deluding themselves as being good. They are most destructive to the team and organisation because they are those who have lost their identity and their way. When we speak of hypocritical and Pharisee leaders, we are in no way issuing moral labels for leaders. Good leaders succeed in creating a legacy of great results, while bad leaders destroy their teams and fail to meet objectives.
The nature of the Pharisee Leader
Pharisaic behaviour creates inefficiency and limits the enhancement of great potential and growth within organisations. Pharisaic attitudes ensure one looks down upon the common people who did not have the slightest chance of fulfilling the complex requirements and/or responsibilities of the organisation. When it comes to following the rules, Pharisee leaders are good at that. Though they excel in following rules, they often ignore the importance of demonstrating mercy, seeking justice and practicing faithfulness.
The rules are easy to follow, but it’s a lot easier to ignore opportunities for responding to injustice or showing compassion. They focus entirely on external righteousness and neglect the internal. “Woe to you, leaders of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! They clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! According to Jesus Christ.
Do we have Pharisees in our modern organisational architecture? Organisations need effective leaders to thrive, and those leaders need to deploy leadership attitudes that get results. By hypocrisy and pharisaism, companies specify and demand specific values from their workers, but at the same time undermine this value framework by making contrary decisions. A leader’s perceived personal integrity, in other words, is a cue for how everyone who follows interact. Hypocrisy doesn’t just undermine a leader’s authority, it also directly threatens how the entire group or organisation functions. When employees start to feel the organisation’s leaders don’t value their contributions on issues, or aren’t committed to their growth or well-being, they start to distance themselves from it.
Why Are Good Leadership Behaviours Important for Organisations?
Effective leadership behaviour practice is key to gaining the workforce’s trust. As Warren G. Bennis puts it: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality, and great leaders are also great visionaries. They not only have a vibrant vision of a better future, but they’re also able to paint it so that others may understand and follow it. Their leadership behaviours reflect they know what’s important and what isn’t. As they look to their vision, they focus on the goals, actions, thoughts and values which will help them and others achieve the big picture. These successful leaders live by a vision statement that helps them strategically plan for the future.
Good leaders don’t let personal thoughts or feelings get involved with their team. Their feedback is objective and professional, helping the team know exactly what to expect and where they can improve. Good leaders understand that feedback is essential for growth, so they aren’t afraid to help their employees improve. But their feedback is always based on their work performance and how it impacts the team. Straightforward, honest, open communication helps team-members receive this kind of feedback well, and they are excited about opportunities for growth and development in the workplace.
How Does Leadership Relate to Employee Satisfaction and Organisational Performance?
The strength of a team – its ability to perform, its cohesiveness and its effectiveness – depends on its leader to a large extent. A weak, divisive and hypocritical leader may try to keep control by bullying, belittling or dividing his/her team members or creating a toxic work environment. But when teams are led by people with good leadership behaviours, more often than not they thrive.
Take a look at these examples of what happens to employee performance when good leadership behaviours are common. Positive leadership behaviours can improve employee motivation, reduce absenteeism and staff attrition, and even reduce the chances of employee burnout.
Great leaders are approachable and compassionate within limits. They know when to care about employees and when to draw the line between being caring and practicing tough love. Great leaders can practice proactive empathy. They show understanding and care, but being empathetic doesn’t mean they let themselves be taken advantage of.
Great leadership behavior, again, is being able to coach people to become better versions of themselves – and this requires great empathy. When it’s combined with good communication skills and appropriate support, it brings enormous benefit to both individuals and the company.
Corporate’s hypocrisy and pharisaism – Why Leadership Actions Matter More Than Words
As intimated earlier, the leader plays a crucial role in establishing their organisations’ social structures; and successful organiations need to function like a neighbourhood. Neighbours look out for each other and rally to work on projects, knowing that when they need help they’ll get it. A leader who talks about the importance of treating everyone equally before retreating to executive decisions is undermining the belief that the workplace is fair. The leader who talks about the importance of hard work but promotes only people in his or her inner circle is causing employees to question their workplace’s fairness.
And ultimately, this misalignment drives people away – not just from individual leaders, but also from treating each other as neighbours and equal. Even if they can’t fully articulate the source of their discomfort, followers of hypocritical leaders steadily become engaged and grow more likely to look out for themselves than for overall good of the group. In the business world, organisations with hypocritical leaders tend to see higher turnover than those whose leaders’ actions match their words.
The truth, though, is that integrity isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be, especially in leadership – and not strictly for ethical reasons. It’s actually much harder to create an alignment between words, actions and rewards than it might seem. In the moment, it’s often easier and more pleasant to tell people what they want to hear.
How can you judge leadership?
It is often said that the spirit of a team is found in the spirit of its leader. Our society – for all its theories about the people leading the leaders – is still leader-led and people-followed. So, how can you judge good leadership? I believe there are two ways to do this: First, start with the team at hand. Teams often reflect their leaders, so look at their behaviour. Second, you can learn from the leader’s assistant. Oftentimes, an assistant is the one who spends most time with the leader.
Good leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions, especially hard ones. They avoid delaying decisions or letting their personal views intervene. They look at things carefully, research well, try and see every angle, make a decision and then stick to it. This will directly influence employee behaviour. When a leader seems to be swayed after making a decision, it can be an issue. But if a leader isn’t willing to get feedback before making a decision, that can also be an issue. A good leader finds the balance of making sure they fully understand the choice, and then stick to it when they decide. They don’t shy away from these choices, but rather meet them head-on and show their employees that they are confident and sure.
Unfortunately, this trust is lost in many organisations by what I call hypocritical leadership. Hypocritical leadership is when management says one thing but does another. It is when top management exhorts the organisation to behave in one way, but then continues to behave in another. But on the other hand, demonstrative leadership is when executives not only talk the talk but walk the walk as well.
Critical Leadership Behaviours for Organisations’ Success
Great leaders lead people to success, and cultivating good leadership behaviours can play a pivotal role in inspiring, commanding respect and driving business success higher. Why? Because it doesn’t just help your leaders, it helps the whole company.
Good leadership behaviours help support an organisation’s corporate culture. When people are respected, well-led and supported, the whole company benefits. Productivity improves, people work better under pressure, employee turnover reduces, stress can decrease, relationships are stronger, teams communicate well, problems don’t seem as insurmountable, team-members support one another – and people can make better decisions because they’re focused on heading in the same direction.
In summary, the ability of leaders to remain visionary is an essential leadership behaviour. The vision may not necessarily be the leader’s, but they have to be able to help people see why it’s important, how it serves a purpose and why their contribution is critical.
Discovery….Thinking solutions, shaping visions.
Frank Adu Anim in Collaboration with Dr. Genevieve Pearl Duncan Obuobi (Lead Consultant on Cx. Leadership & SME, Country Chair, Ladies in Business)
ABOUT FRANK ADU ANIM:
Frank Anim is a holder from University of Ghana and GIMPA BA in Political Science and MBA Finance respectively. He is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass. He has authored several articles in Leadership, Business Strategies and Organisational Planning under Discovery Leadership Series. Frank has significant experience in Business Development, Strategy and Finance, Deal Origination, Transaction Advisory, Investment Consulting and General administration. He has interest in mentoring and coaching young business entrepreneurs through the Discovery Business and Entrepreneurship Programme. He is a nominee for the Global Excellence Business Leader Award by the Swiss School of Business and Management, Switzerland.
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17th November, 2022