Leadership Choice: Designing Climates of Blame or Responsibility
In E. Grady Bogue's book The Leadership Choice: Designing Climates of Blame or Responsibility, the author addresses the impact that self-knowledge can have on a person's life and career. In other words, the way a person acts in his or her personal life is often directly related to the way a person acts in his or her professional life. The morals, opinions, and beliefs held by a person are not generally confined to one area of that individual's life. They are spread across all of the areas of life and designed to be used by that person in many different ways. When a leader has opinions and beliefs, those are generally included in that leader's personal and professional lives, and it may be very difficult to keep them separate. Most people would likely question why anyone would want or need to keep these issues separate, as well. Some beliefs, however, may be private in nature and may not mesh well with what is being taught in a professional sense.
Everyone has to make choices in life, from simple little things all the way up to major life decisions that may not be expected or anticipated until they arise. When people make choices that affect only them, there is little issue. However, most life choices affect at least one or two other people - parents, siblings, children, a spouse, etc. People who are leaders must also make choices, but the ability to affect more people is significant. A leader of a large company or corporation may affect dozens or even hundreds or thousands of people with the choices he or she makes. Additionally, the choices that are made by all people reflect their values and declare the responsibility they have for their actions, especially when those people hold a position of leadership.
The book written by Bogue (2010) addresses all of this. Additionally, there are many other works that also discuss the nature and style of leadership in an effort to make it better understood. The key point to many of these works deals with the nature of leadership and the way it is tied to the lifestyle and beliefs of the leader. Each and every leader is a human being first, and he or she has beliefs and opinions about life and the world that may be similar to or different from what others believe (Antonakis, Cianciolo, & Sternberg, 2004). Beliefs are a big part of who a person is, but some of them come about through means that were unexpected or that are hard to control. For example, some people hold beliefs that belonged to their parents and that have been "passed down" or "taught" to them. They may not have really, carefully considered why they hold those beliefs. Instead, they simply have them because they are uncertain how to change them or why they should be changed. Those beliefs may not really fit with the person, overall.
When there is only one person involved this is not a serious issue. However, when there are many other people involved, such as those who are followers or employees of a particular company, the way their leader was raised and how he or she handles his or her life outside of the office can become an issue. Leaders are generally leaders by nature, in that they have a natural ability to lead others - and they desire to do so (Antonakis, Cianciolo, & Sternberg, 2004). This may not be the case with all leaders, as some of them are basically forced into it or they come into leadership through circumstances that were not of their own choosing. Because that is the case, and because of human nature and understanding, not all leaders will be the same even if they have similar beliefs or were raised in similar ways. Followers must remember leaders are not equal. They have different goals, values, and beliefs that have to be addressed, and they react differently to circumstances. Because that is the case, they all have to find their own ways and develop their own styles.
One of the most significant areas to address with leadership is whether a person is a transformational or transactional leader (Frey, Kern, Snow, & Curlette, 2009). In Bogue's (2010) book, this issue comes through. Transactional leaders are people who are focused on the "transaction" itself. They tell others what to do, and expect their orders to be followed. They are not concerned about the "feelings" of their employees and they do not want to "be a team." Instead, they just want people to do what they are told, so that the company can continue operating efficiently. While those kinds of leaders might get things done, they can also lower the morale of the people who work for them (Bogue, 2010). People need to be appreciated, and they do not get that from leaders who are transactional. They need transformational leaders who are interested in making sure they are heard and validated, in order to keep their morale high (Bogue, 2010).
When transformational leaders help others, they do it because they want to and because they see the value that will offer to the company (Frey, Kern, Snow, & Curlette, 2009). Each person in a company has value and importance, and a transformational leader will recognize and acknowledge that. The goal of these kinds of leaders is to transform the company into something highly valuable and to transform the people who work for that company so they can be the best they can be at their jobs (Bogue, 2010). The morale of the entire company goes up that way, which helps everyone involved. It also helps the leader, because he or she has willing followers instead of simply people who are "following" because they must keep their jobs and do not have any choice in the matter. A transformational leader will recognize all of this and work to make the company a cohesive unit (Bogue, 2010). It is that cohesiveness that will move the company forward and set it apart from its competition. That also helps to retain good, talented employees who might otherwise leave.
Bogue (2010) addresses this issue by discussing the lifestyle that leaders have and how that can affect the ways in which they relate to their employees. There is much, much more to being a leader than simply telling others what to do. Even the best of transformational leaders can have difficulties if they do not take their employees into account very carefully and if they do not stay aware of their life experiences and how they may affect the ways in which they lead (Bogue, 2010). All transformational leaders (and all transactional leaders) have life experiences that shape them. Consider that carefully when dealing with any leader. It is very important that one remembers what a leader needs from his or her followers, too, because that is just as important as what the followers are getting from the leader. When everyone works together, much more can be accomplished. It is not always easy, especially when there are many differences of opinion, but it is always important to consider others and their life experiences in the equation.
Those who are transformational leaders know that life experiences shape who they are and who their employees are (Antonakis, Cianciolo, & Sternberg, 2004; Frey, Kern, Snow, & Curlette, 2009). Because they understand that about themselves and others, they are better prepared to handle any issues that may arise. They see the person behind the problem, instead of just the problem. Many employees struggle with difficulties in their lives, just as the leaders struggle with their own personal problems. While it is important to keep the workplace professional, it is also important to realize that people have lives outside of the workplace, and that an acknowledgment of that may be necessary and significant in order for people to become and remain successful (Bogue, 2010). Leaders became leaders for various reasons, but what they have experienced in their lives shaped that and determined much of what they would do in the future - including whether they became leaders or decided that they would perform better as followers of someone else.
Life choices are not always cut and dried. In other words, some people start out to do or be one thing, and end up as someone entirely different. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as happiness and value are found in that life. When leaders set out to "just" be leaders, though, there can be problems. Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, and the person who is leading must examine his or her reasons for wanting to do so (Bogue, 2010). Leaders who want to get ahead in life at all costs or who have large egos often do not perform as well as leaders who want to get a great team together and help everyone on…