Tuesday, 9 October 2018


With all the acronyms in corporate jargon, a few are getting created (and stuck!) in my head. Here’s one to start with – LEADER. A purely fun, tongue-in-cheek take on different kinds of leadership, with maybe a few grains of truth lodged somewhere! By no means all-encompassing descriptions, there may be types that straddle a couple or nestle between two types or have many shades to a predominant one.

Enjoy…. And believe at your own expense! And by the way, the term ‘he’ is used as a general one; the attributes apply equally to all genders.

L for the Laggard: This type is pretty common. You see, having got to a certain position and having got a few people to ‘lead’, it’s easy to sit back and have others do all the work. This may be fine if he’s not required to roll up his sleeves and actually work (!) but gets a bit much if he is not stirred even to giving direction or support or even approve those small bills.

E for the Enthusiast: This could equally be the Eager Beaver or the Ever Excited leader. But, this type is pretty nice to have. He is engaged, curious, wants to do more and wants his people to do more. Problems only arise when his enthusiasm gets so strong that he’s the only whirlwind around the office and the team is left panting and breathless trying to catch up!

A for the Ambitious Aviator: This one is flying high, or wanting to fly high. No problem with that, and can be great if he carries his team with him. But, often this type has scant regard for the people who are fueling his rise up the ladder. They may slaving late in office to create the perfect report, but Mr. Ambitious Aviator will be lapping up the credit and preening without so much as a ‘thank you’. This type will also very often lobby for his advancement, but forget to do the same for his people.

D for the Dreamer: He is the one who has all the brilliant ideas, the vision for a project, the big plan… but has no clue on how to make it happen! He will articulate a dream, paint a picture, but leave it at that… and leave it to others to actually make it happen. When this trait is coupled with a paralysis of action or decision, it can become not just frustrating, but very daunting, for his people who have to piece a complex jigsaw into place.

E for the Excellence-focused:  Great to be; the stuff that leadership is about. He can be inspiring, constructively critical and lead his team to resounding success. Pitfalls in this type could be obsessive and unnecessary attention to detail (read, nitpicking) and being a control freak. These are two areas that dent this aura. If people feel inspired and empowered by him, it’s a wonderful leadership shadow to cast.

R for the Relationship builder:  This one comes from the ‘softer’ school of leadership. He is all about holding your hand as you cry on leaving your toddler at preschool or visiting the hospital to see your mom. He will do all this for you and for his boss. So, that means great bonhomie all around. Very often, he may rely on the relationship goodwill to carry work through. Nothing wrong with all this, but the crunch comes when he shies away from taking a tough stand or making hard decisions just because he would like to please (and appease) everybody. This often results in very wishy-washy leadership.

Love to hear about the ‘types’ you have encountered!

The fine line between satisfaction and engagement

Not too long back we measured 'employee satisfaction' at work. These surveys were designed to assess how happy or satisfied an employee was with the work environment, the behaviors at work, the attitude of leaders, etc. The inference was that come a certain time of the year, an employee could sit in the chair of the judge and check boxes on a left-to-right scale from 'Very Satisfied' to 'Dissatisfied'.

And then the lexicon began to shift - imperceptibly at first, but more boldly with the passage of years. Satisfaction transmuted to Engagement, and we had a new mantra. For most people this was puzzling; didn't the two mean the same in our context? even if there was a subtle difference, did it merit changing all possible relevant material?

Well, there is a difference in the nuance, if not in the overall intent. 

The term 'satisfaction' is more one-way, where the organization stands to serve, in a manner of speaking, and the employee is the recipient. 'Engagement', on the other hand, encompasses a relationship of mutuality. Both parties work with each other, there is some degree of give-and-take and both stand to benefit (or not) from the relationship.

By implication, the onus of furthering and nurturing this relationship rests with both employee and organization. No one side sits in judgement on the other. Both work towards common goals and then there is an assessment that is placed in the hands of the employee (the organization's assessment of the employee is a matter of another article!!!).

On a more tactical level 'satisfaction' is also viewed as acceptability of work environment, logistics or, in short, the 'hygiene factors'. 'Engagement' purports to be more comprehensive, covering not just enablers at work, but work and work relationships. It effectively takes further the assessment of the physical workplace to an assessment that is more meaningful, since employees come in to not just partake an environment, but to contribute to the core purpose.

So, does the changed terminology make a difference? Yes, it does. Gen X and Y of the workforce are more focused on the overall value proposition than they are on the basics. They need to know overall direction, they want to see how the dots link up, how they fit in and what they walk away with. They are not here to be 'satisfied', they want to be engaged and add value. So, it's no point asking them scores of questions on workplace basics that will have them merely shrug their shoulders and stifle a yawn. And, even though the questions on that survey may not be very different from yesteryear's, the positioning makes all the difference in their minds.

Finally, it's important to remember that this is not about a one-time, annual survey; it's about taking that as a baseline and working towards common goals. 'Satisfaction' is a point of arrival, whereas 'engagement' denotes year-round collaboration on working towards those goals and raising the bar... and then finding more goals to chase and things to better!