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What employees really want from their leaders

Delving into the parallels between football management and corporate leadership, this article explores what employees truly desire from their leaders.

“You don’t know what you’re doing” is the angry chant of a disillusioned football crowd when after a run of bad results their  team are again losing only to see the manager take off the top goal scorer and bring on a defender! What’s worse as usual the manager does not feel the need to explain his decision in the post match interview.

It not so different in most organisations, if the business is struggling the chief executive makes some dramatic changes to improve performance, those on the shop floor don’t understand the thinking behind the resent changes but the chief executive doesn’t think they should have to explain themselves to the local media.

So what do employees want from leaders. Traditionally the answer has been a chief executive  who has the communication skills to explain what they are trying to do and how they are going about it in such away as to inspire confidence and convey credibility. But who is also willing to listen to the views of the front line.

However when the average chief executive addresses the workforce as in the regular newsletter/ blog, employees view it like a party political board cast , a better tomorrow provided everyone works harder. So I don’t think the chief executive’s communications skills are that important to employees. In my experience employees  don’t expect leaders to make promises they have no intension of keeping but they also recognise that not everything is or can be shared with them.
I don’t think employees expect the chief executive to change their strategy just because it’s unpopular. What employees want is to believe that the business will succeed that they will share in that success. So although traditional thinking is the employees want leaders with excellent communication skills and integrity, in reality they are more like football fans happy to let the leadership get on with it until things start going wrong.

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