To Lead or To Be Led?
Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about caring for those you are in charge of.
– Simon Sinek
In our community and day-to-day lives, people claim themselves as the right leader based on judgment on their own capability in organizational and time management. In my personal experience, sometimes people’s expectation to be a “right” leader is overrated. Some people are naturally born to be a leader whilst some are happy to be led.
In the course of studying Human Resources Management, we have come across numerous leadership theories and practices, such as transactional, transitional, charismatic, personality, servant and follower. The style of command and control is arguably ineffective, which only works in military circumstances. The evolution of modern leadership is to be people-oriented. Understanding employee’s needs and wants, readjusting the sources of motivation to them and doing the best of them are recommended to improve their productivity, loyalty and trust. Formally and informally, it is best to carry out effective communication and negotiation, reasoning and resolution. Most importantly, managers need to increase their agility in the workplace. Agility is formulated as a new form of talent management. According to Harvard Business Review, agility can shorten the HR annual or quarterly cycles, so this encourages managers and employees to implement reflections regularly based on facts and figures. To improve this, managers might have to consider carrying out informal meetings to understand employees’ training and development, respond to their emergent and planned changes. Conclusively, agility promotes collaboration, customer centricity, team-based culture, and continuous improvement.
Until recently, I have been slightly disappointed in my sports community. Most table tennis clubs in England are not fully funded but rely on voluntary contributions. In this case, most players are happy to volunteer themselves in leading and managing some parts of administrative and operational work. Regardless of age, gender, experience and social status, this sports community is about compliance, coordination, collaboration and inclusion.
As a “right” captain/leader in such a small community, it is important for him/her to be responsible for taking care of their players. In the Human Resource perspective, “players” are exclusively equivalent to “employees”. When captains/leaders want their players to participate in regular matches at home or away, the captains/leaders are required to understand their needs of the players in reciprocity. I once requested the arrangement of transports and this caused a major disagreement. During the process, I attempted to suggest some solutions and back-up options to my captain but got rejected. Meanwhile, he demonstrated power imbalance, hostility and incompetence in our conversation. Since our values are not compatible, I decided not to participate in any of his matches. This implied that my contribution in blood, sweat and tears will not be in the same equation of his leadership in tender, love and care. I am also convinced this is an example of a psychological contract breach originated from authoritarian leadership.
Even the above issue is not a significant problem with the sports club. It will become a significant problem when all the leaders are negligent and unprofessional. Imagine this dissatisfaction happens daily due to miscommunication and inefficiency, it is detrimental to the whole organization, especially the loss of profitability and talent retention. Hence, in my opinion, Tender, Loving and Care is the essence. According to a Confucius saying, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”. It is also known as the Golden Rule for morals and ethics. We, as part of the organization, always need to ask ourselves:
Why do we need to do what we need?
How can we achieve our goals?
What exactly do we need to work on?
In a nutshell, what we are looking for the “right” leaders is with basic human decency, courtesy and integrity that we can learn from.
Meanwhile, we need to accept the notion that some are naturally gifted to be a leader due to personal background, charisma, experience level, especially the way they speak. Therefore, it is good to be led by an exemplar and imitates the leader’s (or his) speech and mannerisms. It is a relationship between “giving” and “receiving”. However, some are happy to be led due to security and safety. Hence, to decide if you want to be a leader or to be led, certain ideas are needed to be considered. Everyone can be their leader, it is time to rethink what kind of leader you want to be in your organisation!