My Origin Story on Leadership

I am fortunate enough to witness several kinds of leaders through the ’80s, 90’s until today. Leaders I had the privilege to work for comes in different colors, sizes, and shapes. They come from diverse backgrounds, education, and temperament.

For over 30 years in the workforce, I have witnessed how the different leadership styles affected employee morale, productivity, and the organization’s success.

I started work during the Theory X era. Theory X states that “employees require heightened supervision, external rewards, and penalties.” A few elderly leaders would even go to the extent to say the employees are generally lazy. If their boss does not drive them, they will not work. They claim that employees only work if someone is watching over them.

It’s incredible to watch time go by and see many leaders in todays world still having that old Theory X mindset. It’s like they never moved forward with the times. In the past, most works were labor-related. In todays work, jobs require “knowledge” workers.

Stuck in the past, I call them. However, it’s not only the “seasoned” leaders that think this way. Younger Gen-X and the more experienced Gen-Y also carry the notion that employees are simply company tools. These tools will not work correctly if not closely supervised. Employees need supervisors looming over them.

From an employee’s perspective, this is a living hell. Employees are not propertly managed. Meaning they are not developed for their potentiality. They are the first to be blamed when something wrong happens, even if it was a leadership shortcoming. Employees are required to work at all times despite their struggles. Employees are not properly compensated. In the confines of meeting rooms, leaders sometimes talk about them like they are disposable commodities. In public, employees are heralded as the companies most important asset.

You will see employees waiting for the highly paid leaders to leave before they can call it a day. They fear that the bosses will think they are not busy. They will wait for an extra hour or two before heading off home and missing the chance to play with this child before bedtime. They miss tutoring their children because it was already traffic when the leaders go home in their expensive cars. The employees will have to fall in line to take the public transport going home.

They hold back on properly paying their best people. They will wait until a high-potential employee submits their resignation before offering them higher pay or better benefits. Employees put up with this simply because most of them think they do not have options.

I am not generalizing. Do not get me wrong. However, it is unfortunate that this is the situation in most companies. A great workplace should be the rule and not the exception. As Simon Sinek said, “people have the right to love coming to work.”

The sad workplace environment sparked my obsession to study great leaders I came across in my career. It is my mission to learn, apply then teach others the best leadership styles. It is why I am writing articles about great leadership. This is why I run leadership workshops.

I believe that most terrible leader is bad at leadership because they do not know better. It was something they learned or observed from previous bad leaders they had. A former manager used to say, “Monkey see, monkey do.”

Terrible leadership is like a genetic disease that is passed down from one generation to another. Of course, there are still a few genuinely evil leaders in the mix. However, most of them do not know better.

I have witnessed in so many instances employees promoted to leadership positions that are not properly equipped. Newly minted leaders are expected to “magically” morph from a great employee to a great leader. Really? Is it that simple? Come on, guys!

Almost everyone can list several excellent leadership competencies; having a clear and communicated vision, focus on their people agenda, developing direct reports, recognizing outstanding work in public, reprimanding in private, and so on. Yet, very few leaders behave this way.

I know that mentoring future leaders, educating them on leadership competencies, writing articles and books, blogging may not make much of a dent. However, I am at peace that I am trying to do my part.

I will always say that Great Leaders develop people. Great people build great organizations. Only with this can we have great workplaces. I would love to see this one day.

Stay safe,

Jordan Imutan
Visit my website for more articles (email)
@jordanimutan (social media)

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