Over-control is an attempt to forge order, when this mandate is absent from employees’ agenda. When you encourage free expression, paradoxically, you become real. Letting down your guard is what draws people closer.
No one can relate to the fear inspiring, all powerful Wizard of Oz – but they feel empathy for the shriveled cowering man behind the megaphone. Auras of perfection, arrogance, and authoritarianism keep others at arm’s length.
A plastic persona acts as sealant between you and other people – an impenetrable barrier preventing mutual sharing. If you reserve the right to be mercurial and non-penitent, you have earned the reputation of being inauthentic – an individual with whom few feel at ease.
Although high-handedness maintains you as kingpin, it may drive your worker expression elsewhere. What is your objective as manager? To control, or to have communion with compatriots? Which option do you think engenders higher productivity?
Regarding referent power, employees are “cooking with gas” when they desire to be like the person in charge – someone “on their level,” with whom they can identify, and who makes them feel at ease: a comrade in arms as opposed to a commander in charge. The question then becomes – how to behave as an individual not who people fear, but whom they revere? Below are some tips:
- Make the rounds. Management by wandering around is sage advice. Sam Walton got this. He regularly rode with his drivers, learned of their needs, and built rapport with employees.
- Inject fun into the workday. Companies like Pike Place Fish Market and Southwest Airlines are famous for creating an infectious sense of enthusiasm. Work can be accomplished in multiple ways – in an atmosphere of over-control, or in a culture where people feel free to cut up. The rewards of inducing levity have proved outstanding.
- Find ways to celebrate the ordinary. Birthdays, minor holidays, team accomplishments, and reaccreditations are reasons to party. A department that plays together stays together.
- Waylay the weirdness. Behavior that people don’t understand is not endearing. Consider how you can act in a manner that’s more main stream in terms of etiquette, expected response, and empathic concern. Emotional aggression and disproportionate arousal breed resentment.