Risk Doesn’t Sell, and Fear Doesn’t Lead

By David Nour

One of the best exercises conducted over the years involving emotional intelligence consists of asking participants to differentiate between good and bad bosses. No matter where this question is asked, the answers are very similar. Bad bosses are described as being self-centered and arrogant and acting like bullies. Good bosses are invariably described as being good listeners and sensitive to others’ feelings and demonstrating democratic values. According to Tom Rath, author of Vital Friends, in an article from Performance, “These great managers care about each of their employees as a real human being, not just as a means to an end.”

A good coach, in our experience, raises the morale of the team by showing confidence in team spirit, specifically by sticking to his or her lineup even when there may be occasional losses.

A poor coach, on the other hand, punishes players by benching them when they perform poorly. Such players always have failure on their minds because they know they’ll be singled out as soon as they make a mistake. They may perform well for a while, but when the pressure builds they tend to fold.

Similarly, in the workplace, a good boss focuses on the positive, giving his or her subordinates the benefit of the doubt, offering support, even when mistakes are made, as long as they’re a basis for learning. A bad boss tends to punish any mistake, believing that learning takes place by focusing on errors. Even though professional athletes make money even if they occasionally mess up, what’s important to them is their self-esteem and the esteem of their teammates. Similarly in the workplace, such concern about esteem, or loss of it, can make an associate choke under pressure, causing a lack of confidence. A good boss encourages his or her subordinates, building their confidence and group loyalty. The boss lacking awareness takes subordinates to task for any apparent error, creating a sense of anxiety and fear throughout the organization resulting in higher turnover, decreased zeal, and lower productivity.


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