John Maner, Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, claims that leadership styles come in two categories: dominance-motivated and prestige-motivated.
It easy to recognize dominance-motivated leaders since they overpopulate the federal sector.
• Demand their direct reports defer to them.
• Influence through power, coercion and a rewards system that emphasizes punishment and rewards.
• Thrive in bureaucracies where the distance between the top and bottom of the organization is steep with most of the power residing at the upper echelon.
• Rely on political savvy and opportunistic relationships to earn rank and standing in the organization.
• Exude personalities that reek of narcissism and excessive self-confidence.
These leaders live by the mantra of:
• I tell you what to do and you do it.
• If you don’t do what I tell you to do, you will reap the consequences.
• Don’t think about challenging me.
• Don’t complain since you have not earned that right yet.
• You only wish that you were as powerful as I am.
Imagine how different the federal space would be if leaders adopted a prestige-motivated leadership style.
• Deference is freely given.
• Influence is gained by being a role model.
• Bureaucracies are flat and persuasion is earned through expertise and competence.
• Affiliation and connection are important than strong arm bullying.
These leaders wake up every day with the following aims:
• Dependent on the situation, I may need to delegate my power or lead from the middle or even from behind.
• I am a partner with my people, not an overbearing parent.
• I flatten the organization by letting my people go so they can find their own engagement and purpose.
• While the work is important, it is the relationships that matter at the end of the day.
Let’s understand that the success of our organizations depends on everyone regardless of their title, role, paycheck or ego. Instead of seeing our people as nails and a hammer as the only tool to motivate them, let’s look at them as seeds in the ground that just need a little water. Their greatness will sprout one day.