11 Laws of Leadership at Work

Throughout the course of my working career, which goes back to the age of 15 when I worked in a transmission shop owned by a friend’s Dad, leaders have created the working conditions that I was subjected to. Some had positive employee engagement, some not so good.

When I graduated from college, the US was in the midst of a recession and I found myself working outside of my area of study, like so many others have to do.  I was working for a large auto parts retailer which specialized in the command and control method of leadership. This company measured and taught intimidation as a key developmental skill for its leaders. Sure they still do.

I Worked More than 30 Days in a Row

On one occasion a District Manager named Steve made me work 32 consecutive days. I was an Assistant Store Manager for the highest volume store (at the time) in Burlington, North Carolina. One of the responsibilities of assistant store managers was store cleanliness. Yes…cleanliest is next to godliness for an auto parts store too. So the District Manager wanted to exert his control over me and said, “You need to work everyday and get this store to my satisfaction. You call me when you think its ready for me to re-inspect.”

Three weeks later I called for my re-inspection and he didn’t show up for another week and a half; a total of 32 consecutive days. In case you wondered the store was open 7 days a week.               

Lessons more Valuable with Time 

Needless to say I passed. What did this get me besides no personal life (I was not an hourly employee either)? In less than 60 days I was the Manager of my own store. I bent over and received my punishment (in his mind) without bitching. Looking back on my experiences with this company I was taught more valuable lessons than how to sell auto parts and use a floor buffer. I learned not to treat employees like human waste and that employee engagement by intimidation was not for me.    

This has led me to realize that people are your work environment. As being a Leader I am responsible for the environment in which they and I have to live. So are they. While there are times when I fail,  I try to remind myself of (and follow) these Laws of Leadership at work:

     1. If employees work with criticism, they learn to condemn.
     2. If employees work with hostility, they learn to fight.
     3. If employees work with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
     4. If employees work with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
     5. If employees work with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
     6. If employees work with encouragement, they learn confidence.
     7. If employees work with praise, they learn to appreciate.
     8. If employees work with fairness, they learn justice.
     9. If employees work with security, they learn to have faith.
     10. If employees work with approval, they learn to like themselves.
     11. If employees work with acceptance, and respect, they learn to find happiness at work.

I sure would love to tattoo these on Steve’s fat behind. Better yet, his forehead and backwards, so he can see them in the mirror every morning. Oops, sorry I digress.

I am sure you could replace Steve with another name and this type of story be yours. The point here is that the command and control tactics do not generate long-term value for anyone. Including the shareholders.

If you want to retain your top talent your leadership development programs can not be cranking out a bunch of Steve’s. Many organizations, including governments are reporting a leadership crisis is rapidly approaching and with the Baby Boomers retiring at an enormous pace this crisis will reach critical perportions for some sooner than later.

If you would like to learn how to avoid this, get your copy of the free ebook Averting the Leadership Development Crisis now.

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