Leadership and Program Management

Leadership Study

Good leadership drives motivation, innovation, creativity, conflict resolution, and team development while increasing risk tolerance and expanding communication channels. Therefore we can also assume that bad leadership will imply negative consequences for the team, program/project, and strategic objectives for the firm. To understand the value that leadership can play with successful programs, the best place to start is to understand the consequences of bad management. When bad leadership or management is employed, there can be some serious consequences. Recently, Ericson, Shaw, and Agabe published an article in the Journal of Leadership Studies entitled “An Empirical Investigation of the Antecedents, Behaviors, and Outcomes of Bad Leadership” (2007). Although the article focuses on bad leadership approaches and styles, it fits into the general premise of the manager-versus-leader discussion in that it focuses on the outcome of a bad leader regardless of the individual’s title. The entire article is worth exploring, but here I address just some key points. In this study, 335 participants responded in full or in part to the twentyone-question survey, and although the results are not surprising, they are evidence for empirical impressions established by most professionals. Respondents were asked to focus on a personal experience that they had with what they deemed to be a bad leader and to answer the questions accordingly. Based on this scenario, the study may be slightly skewed but the results are eye-opening.

In the answers provided to this survey, bad leaders were identified as those who had difficulty dealing with subordinates (17.6 percent), poor ethics/integrity (13.3 percent), poor interpersonal skills (11.5 percent), and poor personal skills (14.1 percent). These issues resulted in employees feeling frustrated (11.6 percent), feeling angry (15 percent), and having lowered self-esteem (13.9 percent). In addition, the bad leadership was directly attributable to the development of a bad organizational culture (17.3 percent), overall performance loss (16.0 percent), attrition of employees (21.3 percent), and motivation loss (12.8 percent). What was surprising and somewhat disheartening was that when asked what happened to the bad leader, 44.8 percent of the participants stated that he or she was either promoted or rewarded and 13.4 percent stated that nothing happened to that individual. Therefore 58.2 percent of the respondents reported a situation where the manager would most likely continue to have a negative impact on the organization and its staf

With the motivation, performance, human resource, and cultural losses that a bad leader is able to cause in an organization, it is surprising that so many businesses keep or promote bad managers. Does the organization really understand the cost of this leadership and the impact that it has on its organization, or is the focus on the outcomes of the program regardless of the cost, and is the loss of attrition and motivation an acceptable trade-off? It seems not, for even the most ruthless of companies is focused on profits, market share, and growth and recognizes that the loss of performance, motivation, and human resources is an obstacle that must be overcome.

Last word

Can you image that over 58.2 percent of the managers were never held responsible for their behavior or inability to achieve? That is what we must overcome. As leaders we must learn that motivation, morale, innovation, positive conflict resolution, and open communication are critical to building hpts and successful program efforts. These examples demonstrate what we must set as a standard as unacceptable to program managers. And that is the one of the primary purposes of this book, to overcome bad leadership and employ positive collaboration and hpts. In program management, leaders are critical to the success process; they coordinate work efforts, identify issues, ensure that consistent management information is communicated clearly and concisely, teach positive conflict resolution, define roles and responsibilities, ensure that everyone understands the goals/benefits/risks of the program effort, and manage the stakeholder expectations, celebrating each benefit as it is achieved. As you read this book, attempt to identify some of your personal key leadership traits that contribute to being a successful program manager.

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