Follow Up to Boss’s Day……Leadership 101

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I recently ran across two great articles, 3 recent studies: bosses are bumming people out  and  4 big — and often buried — reasons why good employees quitThese articles struck a nerve and made me think about my previous jobs as a manager and my previous/current bosses that I wrote about, Happy Belated Boss’s Day (

After having countless conversations with friends, family, and past coworkers, I found the articles to be pretty accurate.  One of the things I loved most about the articles is they offer solutions/key takeaways after every point. And once again the solutions were “spot on”.  Issues #2 from bosses are bumming people out- Gap exists between managers and employees’ perceptions of expectations. Takeaway: Maybe you think you’ve been crystal-clear about your expectations around performance. But have you really? Doing this usually entails initiating direct in-depth conversations about what great (and poor) performance look like.

As my career progressed as a manager, I had a training that was very beneficial to me. So much, I carried the card (pictured below) with me for many years. The training was Situational Leadership by Ken Blanchard. The fundamental underpinning of the situational leadership theory is that there is no single “best” style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the maturity (“the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task”) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it also depends on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished.  This theory helped me survive many tough conversations, helped my career and helped me help others succeed in their careers.  This was definitely a “game changer” for me.



Hersey and Blanchard characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of Task Behavior and Relationship Behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types, which they named S1 to S4:

  • S1: Telling – is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, why, when and where to do the task;
  • S2: Selling – while the leader is still providing the direction, he or she is now using two-way communication and providing the socio-emotional support that will allow the individual or group being influenced to buy into the process;
  • S3: Participating – this is how shared decision-making about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing less task behaviors while maintaining high relationship behavior;
  • S4: Delegating – the leader is still involved in decisions; however, the process and responsibility has been passed to the individual or group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress.

Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation.


A good leader develops “the competence and commitment of their people so they’re self-motivated rather than dependent on others for direction and guidance.” According to Hersey, the leader’s high, realistic expectation causes high performance of followers; the leader’s low expectations lead to low performance of followers. According to Ken Blanchard, “Four combinations of competence and commitment make up what we call ‘development level.'”

  • D1 – Low competence and low commitment
  • D2 – Low competence and high commitment
  • D3 – High competence and low/variable commitment
  • D4 – High competence and high commitment

In order to make an effective cycle, a leader needs to motivate followers properly.

Over the years, I have encountered many smart/intelligent people in leadership roles but that does not make you a good leader or manager. If a manager cannot motivate, train/develop their team, maybe they should not be managers. I have found in many organizations, the management team is more concerned with their personal careers or making sure the company is making its goals and hitting all of its deliverables. I know profitability is very important but companies and their managers need to understand that people work for people; they like structure, clear direction, training, recognition and upward mobility.

My words of advice if you are a manager or run an organization; invest in your people. Have all your managers go through a leadership-training course similar to the one mentioned above.  Stop wasting money on employees who are not a perfect fit and invest in those that are committed to the job/organization and show potential. In the long run, you will be more profitable, have better morale, and higher employee retention.