Why Leaders Must Rise Above the Rest of the Pack

female and male co-workers playing chess

By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan

I pity the fool whose ear is easily bent by gossip, but I’m even more disgusted by managers that call themselves leaders and base their evaluations of others on gossip.

How many times have you watched companies bring in new management only to see the cream of the crop frantically looking for a way out of the place before the catastrophe hits?

I can smell a bad manager as soon as they start talking. They stink of trying to intimidate or bully staff members. They are usually from backgrounds or upbringings where they weren’t treated very well, and either they have the wrong idea that this is the behavior of management or they are just plain insecure or inferior in nature to begin with.

A good leader or manager wouldn’t base employee judgment on hearsay or perhaps what’s in that personnel file. They should make a conscious effort to get to know their staff – where their strengths are in regards to performance, whether they are lacking in production, and of making sure that they get the support and training they need. In other words, instead of trying to ruin their lives or make them miserable, mentor them.

A great leader can breathe life into a dormant organization. Moreover, a “Leader” is not the title you gain as a manager, you earn it as a person able to persuade people to be their best and do their best for the company. You can’t bully the best.

What these people don’t know or may have known and forgotten, is that some staff might want to do just enough work to get by because they are pretty much soured on the previous management. If there are hard working stand out employees in the camp, the lazy or not so brilliant manager often fears that person because of their outstanding knowledge of the job. You go figure.

How many times have we heard “don’t work too hard because they (management) don’t appreciate it anyway?” With that mindset, a person is putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. What if you look up one day and the job does not exist? You have allowed yourself to be a person of little value to another organization. Working hard and smart helps you keep your skills up. Unfortunately, some people are given management positions for the wrong reasons. They were friends with the right people, made themselves standout, not necessarily because of brilliance or they were the only available body at the time, and knew a little more than the person that appointed them.

So you hard-working, charismatic, knowledgeable folks out there are the types that need to rise above the rest. Anybody can be nasty and bossy. It takes a class act to rule a team with finesse.

There was a company on the near Southwest Side of Chicago that had employees so supportive of their very large family-owned manufacturing business that when the company was losing money and risking closing down, the employees stepped up to the plate and worked for half their wages to try and help the family retain their company, and not lose it. That is a leader, not a mere manager that could pull off that type of support. The difference is respect, admiration and maybe even love from a staff that would be willing to do something like that.

My advice to managers: If you want to be leaders, mind your manners and mentor those you would consider casting out because they aren’t up to what you think they should be or what you have heard.

True leaders make yourself be known and practice good leadership skills in the workplace.

Pamela Bratcher-McMillan is a Technology Expert and columnist for CopyLine Magazine

Editor’s Note: This article was first published on 11/29/13.