Leadership is essential to success in business, yet many lack a concrete sense of what it means to be a good leader. If managers fail to assess their workers’ strengths and assign them commensurate tasks, they will end up demoralizing their employees, spreading weakness throughout the company.
The Portrait of a Weak Leader
One of the most common mistakes of business management is to assume that “keeping employees in line” is the same as leading them. A weak manager will assign his or her employees to a task, explain to them all the goals and deadlines, and expect the employees to perform the task as specified. If the employees don’t do a good job, the manager chastises them as bad workers. Though often portrayed as an example of strong leadership, this method is bound to leave employees confused and dismayed, leading to lower productivity.
The problem with this method is that it doesn’t account for the differences in employees’ personalities. Say that an employee is assigned to a quality assurance team but ends up doing her job badly because she doesn’t pay close attention to detail. Her manager may assume that she is not a good employee when in fact she may simply not have been placed in a job appropriate for her skill set. Lack of attention to detail is only a problem in detail-oriented jobs; she may excel in a job that handles big-picture planning. By keeping her in a job she isn’t suited for, the manager has displayed bad leadership.
Good Leadership and the Path of Least Resistance
Rather than forcing employees to develop skills they don’t have, true leaders place employees in jobs that align with their skills. Employees who appear restless and impatient, for example, are best assigned to sales, where they can set their own pace. Likewise, employees who are uncomfortable socializing with strangers are best put in departments like accounting, where their work will be internal to the company. The goal is to take the path of least resistance: the less each employee has to change his or her personality for a job, the better suited that employee is to that job.
The path of least resistance is not without costs. Since no manager can fully assess an employee’s skills before hiring, you’ll likely have to reassign and retrain many of your workers over time, generating costs that you must explain to your superiors. Over the long run, however, you will more than make up for these costs by creating a competent, productive team.
Production Paint Finishers is built on a foundation of good leadership and we strive to continually improve to best serve our customers. Learn more about our history.