Posted by Bill Gerneglia in trust, team, research, productivity, leadership, IT management, Employee Retention, employee engagement, critical CIO skills, Communication, collaboration, Business Performance Management, Booz & Co.
Leadership is no popularity contest, to be sure. However, the workplace is after all a social environment. It makes sense, therefore, that leaders with positive informal social connections with their direct reports turn up with better results.
A recent study by Booz & Co. researchers Prasad Balkundi, Zoe Barsness, and Judd H. Michael confirms this, as reported in the Autumn issue of the management consultancy's journal, strategy + business.
Remember: leaders manage teams, and productive teams rely on harmony among team members. Following 19 teams with a combined 231 workers in two construction plants, the researchers looked at how a leader's social ties with his team members affects conflict within the team.
They found that the teams with the least conflict were managed by leaders who had gained their team members' respect over time. These team members regularly approached their leaders on and off work hours for work-related guidance. This leadership approach works because team members feel encouraged to collaborate; thus they share more information. The resulting cohesion within the group boosts morale and job satisfaction, cutting down on turnover. Moreover, when employees feel they can turn to their leader for guidance, the leader gains credibility and influence. These leaders are better positioned to build the consensus necessary for a team to work.
Meanwhile, teams with the most internal conflict had what the authors call "brokerage" leaders: leaders who control information by sharing it only with certain team members. This approach ultimately leads to a fragmented team with inconsistent communication, greater conflict among members, and weaker chances of long-term success.
The bottom line: since leaders are appointed from above, they don't automatically have their subordinates' respect. Leaders must earn it, and making stronger social bonds with their staff offers a significant advantage in boosting performance.