One of twelve chapters of our book, Because Your People Matter: a playbook for managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders, serialised here.

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Leading People: a key manager role


Written by John Berry & Sue Berry on 21st November 2022. Revised 31st January 2023.

4 min read

Chapter 2: Leading People

Chapter Summary

Because Your People MatterThroughout our discussion in Chapter 2 on leadership, we assume that leadership is a management role. Many authors assume that leadership is what the MD does while others manager. We do not agree. Leadership is a role that all managers must embrace.

Leading people

Leadership can be thought of on two planes: first, as a one-to-one, or dyadic, relationship that the manager must build between themselves and each employee; and second, a one-to-many relationship requiring the manager to exhort his or her expectations on the group or firm.

The dyadic plane is easier to understand and significantly simpler to make work. We recommend that managers start their leadership there. Dyadic leadership is the foundation of all. Once dyadic relationships are in place, one-to-many, or leader-to-group, exhorting activities can be added.

Leadership as intervention

In effective leadership, the leader intervenes in their follower’s lives to persuade them to do what the leader wants. Without leadership intervention, the followers would do something else. There are many ways for the leader to achieve this. At one extreme is coercion. Coercion would be of limited effect in the environment of a firm where employees voluntarily enter an employment contract and can leave at a whim. Toward the other extreme is a host of leadership approaches and we detail these.

Professional leadership requires that the leader is a peer of their followers and a master of their trade. The followers respect the leader and, as a result, agree to be persuaded.

Procedural leadership recognises that firms have procedures. It’s how they do what they do. The procedural leader’s job is to build procedure. Procedural leadership embraces reward for compliance with those procedures.

More leadership approaches

Chapter 2 Start PlayTransformational leadership requires the leader to espouse vision of some future ‘promised land’. The followers will be persuaded because they believe that they will benefit from rewards when the ‘promised land’ is reached.

And transactional leadership exploits exchange theory where the leader and follower exchange valuable assets – the leader wants the follower to do as they say while the follower wants flexibility, personal development, or even new experiences.

Accidental leadership

Leaders are often accidental – they are the person in the frame at a particular point in time and are automatically (or accidentally) appointed. They may or may not go on to be an effective leader. On the one hand leaders are ‘born’ to the job – they have the right innate personal characteristics like personality and intelligence. On the other they are ‘bred’ to the job – given the right personal characteristics, they can learn the trade. As we intimate elsewhere, reading this book is a good start.

We list several failings in leaders, mostly associated with the flawed assumption by many in leadership positions that leadership is obvious.
Leadership requires leaders to get close to their followers such that they can use various leadership tactics to influence them. We outline two such tactics: roadblock removal and goal illumination.

Using feedback

Reviews as images DanBThe leader’s job does not end once the followers agree to do what’s wanted. The leader must engage with feedback – they must sense the desired outcomes and determine if those are met. If not, the leader must intervene again and again until their desired goal is met. We discuss the use of feedback in this chapter and in others because it is so hugely important in management.

And finally, we refer to online leadership. Before the Covid pandemic, a small but significant number of people worked day-to-day online. Following the drive to work from home, this has now increased, and we comment that managers must adjust to lead in this new environment. It can yield good benefits.

Leadership is a never-ending machine in which the leader sets goals, selects leadership interventions, acts, monitors success and repeats – forever.