Over the past few weeks, we have written about the responsibilities of both labor and management in meeting the needs of today’s workforce. Today, I want to focus on the most important quality for both: leadership.
Do not confuse leadership with management. You manage things, you lead people. Leadership is much more difficult and requires higher level skills. Instead of just telling people what to do, leaders work to effectively use the skills of all team members and provide opportunities for growth. They want to bring the tram together to effectively solve problems.
The success of any labor-management collaborative process depends on effective leadership on both sides. Leaders are not found on only one side of the table. The parties must recognize both sides as equal players in the process. If one part of the team demonstrates a condescending attitude toward the other or tries to dominate them, it will be impossible for the group to work effectively.
All members need to know they can trust the other side to be honest and follow through on what they say they will do. Strong leaders recognize their responsibility to help teams become effective problem solvers and to support the work of the group. If a weak leader cannot deliver on their commitments, the process is doomed.
Researchers have defined several leadership styles, such as avoidance, hands off, coercive, autocratic, and others. Effective leaders in any team-based process must use a collaborative style. They must work to build consensus, provide coaching and support to help the team work, function as a part of the team, and be certain they have the information and resources they need to carry out the task.
Leaders who use an autocratic style will destroy a team. It often seems this type of leader is destined to sabotage the work of the group. For example. we worked with a labor-management team working to improve communications in their organization, among other things. The CEO of the organization attempted to micromanage every team decision, including the color of paper to be used by a newsletter. Needless to say, the team members did not want to put forth the effort to work on more issues.
If labor and management want to improve their workplaces, they must work collaboratively and engage employees. This requires strong, effective leadership on both sides of the table that supports the team and makes its success a priority. Without good leadership, teams will flounder and members will stop their participation.
Maintaining an effective leadership style takes conscious effort, training, and coaching. CALMC can help your organization develop effective leaders, both labor and management, to get the most from your team process.