It is a mistake to think that you can receive labour from your employees simply by paying them a wage or salary. Employees have to give their labour on an ongoing basis. And for this to happen, employees need to accept the instruction of their superior.

The truth is that those in leadership positions can only lead if the employees have given their superiors the right to give them instruction. It is in fact the employees, not the leader, who ultimately decide to what degree they are prepared to be led. A leader only has as much power as their employees grant. Without appropriate leadership skills, this won’t happen.

The Acceptance or Rejection of a Leader’s Authority

The leader’s standing, with regards to their people, can be felt in the prevailing climate among employees. When the leader’s authority is accepted, their presence is welcomed. The leader tends to be the go-to person for employee concerns. They support the leader’s decision and accept disciplinary action when it is applied.

When the leader’s authority is not accepted, the result is resistance. It will be either subtle or overt, and their presence will not be welcomed. Subtle resistance might include things like snide remarks, sarcasm, gossiping, disinvestment from instructions, dragging feet, and acting only under direct instruction. Overt resistance might include things like a breakdown in communication, a refusal to follow instruction, a go-slow, a strike, or even a complete parting of ways. If resistance exists in the workplace, then there is leadership work to be done.

It is critical to understand that the difference between an accepted leader and a resisted leader cannot be solved by paying people more money. For employees to accept the authority of the leader, it is necessary that they accept that the authority is being used legitimately. The key challenge facing anyone in authority is that of establishing, and then maintaining, the legitimacy of that authority. Getting leadership right is not about paying people; it is about understanding what makes authority and power legitimate.

Enhancing Leadership Skills

This is not to say we shouldn’t pay people, because it is without a doubt that we should pay fairly. But do understand that paying people simply puts bums on seats, it does not engage hearts and minds. Leadership skills engage hearts and minds.

Being able to fulfil the role of an effective leader requires this understanding that may not come so easily for most leaders. For this reason, Schuitema Group is invested in leadership excellence through transformational diagnostics, coaching, consulting, training, and hosting events to help leaders of organisations from all industries. In transforming your leadership approach, you can bring out the best in your people. And people who are the best version of themselves perform exceptionally at work.

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