Swift Rewards, Slow Punishments

While not a traditional leader per-se, Ovid’s contribution to thought and literature are still felt today all the way back from ancient Greece. His insights into human nature are revealed through his poetry, which often took up the subject of kings and gods.

Of leadership Ovid had to say: a ruler should be slow to punish and quick to reward.

Ovid was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. He enjoyed enormous popularity, but, in one of the mysteries of literary history, was sent by Augustus into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid himself attributes his exile to carmen et error, “a poem and a mistake”, but his discretion in discussing the causes has resulted in much speculation among scholars.

The first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus, Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria (“The Art of Love”) and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and greatly influenced Western art and literature. The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology.

Peter Drucker: Founder of Modern Management

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
~ Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business. He was also a leader in the development of management education.

He invented the concept known as management by objectives. Management by objectives is the process of defining specific objectives within an organization that management can convey to organization members, then deciding on how to achieve each objective in sequence. This process allows managers to take work that needs to be done one step at a time to allow for a calm, yet productive work environment. This process also helps organization members to see their accomplishments as they achieve each objective, which reinforces a positive work environment and a sense of achievement.

Drucker is also known for popularizing the management concept of self-control—as an executive function, self-control is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one’s behavior in order to achieve specific goals.

Drucker has been described as the founder of modern management. He is often quoted as saying: “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations,” which speaks to his management by objectives philosophy.

Max De Pree: A Caring Corporation

Max De Pree was an American businessman and writer. He served his country in World War II as part of the Army Medical Corp. His most famous piece of writing, the book Leadership is an Art, has sold an astounding 800,000 copies.

De Pree is well known for his “inclusive corporation” in which all voices are heard in the company and for his invention of the “silver parachute” concept of termination benefits. Previously, businesses preferred the so-called golden parachute style wherein employees received a pre-agreed upon termination package. The silver parachute bases its compensation on the length of time an employee served the company, as long as the employee served more than two years.

Being a writer, De Pree had much to say about business during his lifetime, but perhaps one of his most well-known statements about leadership is “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

This quote speaks to his inclusive corporation philosophy and his efforts to create what some call a “caring corporation” in which a business aligns its will for financial success with the care of its employees.

De Pree inherited the CEO position of Herman Miller furniture company from his brother Hugh De Pree who had taken over for the founder and their father, D. J. De Pree.

How To Reward Team Members Or Employees Without a Budget

Many leaders would like to reward their subordinates, but don’t have a budget to do so. Liz Ryan at Forbes has some suggestions for leaders, managers and business owners in regards to rewarding employees without dipping into funds they may not have.

Allowing employees a work from home day can be a good way to reward them. If this doesn’t apply to your situation exactly, figure out how to reward your team member by allowing them to work for a day on their own scheduling or location terms.

If you have a dress code, ease up on it. It is no longer just the tech sector or other “young” businesses that have discovered that it is kind of absurd to pretend we need special clothing to get our work done in the business world. Ditch the white collars (at least on Fridays).

Find a way to give your team member a special project that suits their interest or under used skill set or find another job-related opportunity to give them.

Bring in one of the “big wigs” to have a sit down with your team and discuss the vision and future of the company and how they all fit into that picture. If you are the big wig (or not) you might consider bringing in a relevant outsider to lead your pow wow.

Take the time to write an honest and positive letter of recommendation for the team member. Talk to them about why you’d be happy to be a reference in the future, either for advancement within the organization or if they decide to move on.

The latter could be part of regularly scheduled one-on-one sessions with your teammates. Focus on the teammate’s needs and thoughts. Ask them questions. How can you help them?

Whatever you choose to do, a simple gesture highlighting the accomplishments and talents of your employees when monetary or material rewards aren’t an option is the best way to let them know they are appreciated.

Is Positive Feedback Effective, If So Why Do Leaders Avoid It?

Zenger/Folkman, leadership consultants, found that nearly 8,000 managers (or 44%) reported they “found it stressful” to give negative feedback. Z.F. also found that an entire fifth avoids it entirely. But perhaps most shocking, 40% said they never gave any positive feedback. The study concluded that a leader’s willingness to give positive feedback was the top indicator of whether their subordinates consider them effective and honest communicators.

Some research has indicated that giving positive feedback helps subordinates feel like they are learning and growing which leads to increased confidence and competence.

A Gallup survey concluded that managers who communicated their strengths to their employees found employees far more engaged in their work.

Z.F. indicated their studies found reasons for avoiding positive feedback include it being thought of as “un-macho” and a sign of weakness in male dominated industries, while others reported they feared it as being perceived as “blowing smoke”. Others simply may want to avoid familiarity with people that work for them and who they may have to fire or feel they are avoiding the roll of “judge”.

Positive feedback and constructive criticism are two leadership tools that are certainly worth the so-called risks, which are often only perceived as real risks when none exists.

Insubordination: How Do Leaders Handle It?

Most organizations and teams are not pure democracies, in the end there is someone who is in charge. More often than we like to think this person in charge is asked to discipline a peer in cases of insubordination. Though we don’t like to think about it, insubordination does happen. Whether it is just the nature of a particular team member’s personality or someone just having a moment of rebellion how does a leader deal with insubordination adult to adult?

First and foremost having a standard in place with dealing with general and/or specific types of insubordination is key. In the corporate world this often comes in the form of an employee handbook—a document like this can be invaluable even for a very small business, that may be run more casually. It is far easier to have rules in place then to try to enforce something without precedent.

Some leaders, managers and bosses will accommodate successful team members who have rebellious personalities if they are getting the job done and fundamentally respect the leader, other team members and the organization. However, leaders should know that some team members may be annoyed or resentful by the accommodation style and leaders who use this style may loose their credibility with other team members if they are too loosey-goosey.

At the other end of the spectrum there is a strict leadership style in which decorum is of the upmost importance to the leader—sometimes to the point where any questioning of the leader is considered insubordination. Team members typically know exactly where the line is when this style is employed, however leaders will loose out on honest, critical feedback and may foster an atmosphere of fear and low morale.

While both these extreme styles have potential benefits and drawbacks, staying consistent is important. Inconsistent treatment of insubordination will inevitably lead to chaos, low morale and loss of respect. Playing favorites or allowing something on Tuesday, but then not on Thursday is a quick way to lay waste to any respect or credibility a leader as earned from her team.

Some believe the best way to handle insubordination, adult to adult, in a leader-to-team-member relationship is through immediate constructive criticism. Address the behavior politely, but firmly. Be as objective as possible about the transgression. While for many this will feel like the most uncomfortable and difficult option in the short term, in the long term this style may reap the most healthy team environment.