As the world becomes ever increasingly business focused, so greater emphasis is being placed on the conditions that prevail within a company.

There are now so many companies competing in the same space that in order to attract top talent, businesses are required to offer a culture that is both highly conducive to growth and understanding of employee happiness. 

The days of the autocratic boss are over, in no uncertain terms. Heads of companies who fail to recognise that highly-educated individuals will no longer “carry on blindly” for the sake of a pay cheque will very quickly find themselves shoe-gazing as their more appreciative counterparts welcome their former employees with open arms.

Google consistently ranks as the best company to work for, not because its profits surpass the GDPs of some small countries, but because the tech giant understands the lives of its employees. This year, for example, it bolstered its parental benefits to the extent that both mothers and fathers can get up to

12 weeks’ paid leave to look after their children.

Benefits aside, one of the key markers in establishing how well or poorly a company’s culture is perceived is whether it employs managers or leaders.

Much already has been written about the differences between the two, and rightly so. Whether you are about to enter the workplace or are an old hand, the behaviour of superiors directly determines how you perform at work.

There is no question that everyone in the workplace hopes to do the best they can, including managers. However, in order to ensure that everyone is given the best opportunity to do so, the emphasis needs to shift away from simply adhering to the organogram structure.

There is a longstanding (and grossly inaccurate) belief that “title” equals competence, and that whoever’s name is on the office door automatically makes them good at what they do. In the mind of the manager that might be the case, but ask any of their employees and they will be quick to point out any one of the following about their superior:

  • They always take credit;
  • They micro-manage;
  • They like to exercise their power;
  • They make no bones about their personal ambitions;
  • They communicate excessively [emails, meetings]; and
  • The bottom line is their sole driver

Understandably, managers are also under a lot of pressure to deliver on what is expected of them. One cannot forget that they are employees, too, and targets do have to be met. Unfortunately the business world is awash with stories about employees leaving because of their immediate superior did not give them room to develop, or they came down hard on them for ridiculous reasons.

Where the traits of managers are largely negative, leaders will embody most of the following:

  • They win followers without being autocratic;
  • They take responsibility when trouble stirs;
  • They share success with everyone;
  • They persuade, and don’t bark orders;
  • They give credit to others at every opportunity

What people really want are leaders, those individuals who not only exhibit a passion for what they’re doing, but want to share that passion with others. There is no greater feeling for an employee than being inspired to greater heights, and then reaping the rewards that follow.

The best managers are those who want to become leaders, and recognise that in order to do so they need to look past their own motivations to hold down a title that might look good on a LinkedIn resume.  They will also seek to improve themselves by asking advice from superiors and those beneath them in the pecking order, or undertake leadership skills trainingprogrammes in their spare time.

There is an old saying that there are “good managers and bad managers”, but what that really means is the difference between someone who likes to hold the whip hand and those who like to inspire others, mentor them and enjoy the rewards together.

While businesses owners do value personal ambition, in the years going forward they will place a greater emphasis on how hires relate to the culture of their company, particularly in respect of shared growth and success.

Contact details:   

Kwelanga Training


Tel: (Johannesburg) - 011 704 0720/4

(Cape Town) – 021 683 4084/4239 

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