life hacksBy Bridget Gilmore

Creating a Submissive Corporate Culture

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) This is exactly what companies are expecting from their followers. They are making their followers feel obligated to being loyal and have taken it out of context, just as readers of the cited scripture do. What happened to the rest of the scripture which states in Ephesians 5:21 “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ?” The command advises a two-way relationship and that part of the scripture appears to have been ignored. Companies that serve their followers will receive superior service from them if they cultivate a serving relationship.

How are results-oriented companies able to compete in a world full of results oriented businesses? They recruit followers as potential future leaders and direct them to be compliant toward a desired goal. The follower’s career path is based on the direction of the customer. The training plan is already created and the only thing the follower has to do is select “I commit” to the appropriate training plan. The follower either complies or doesn’t have a job with this type of company.

When the goal is to do what is best for the customer, the company conveys behaviors they require to achieve success in a high performance culture. This type of culture is one in which performance goals and commitments are blatantly clear. A high performance culture, according to Reid and Hubbell (March/April 2005), “is based on discipline. This discipline promotes decisiveness and standards of excellence and ensures direct accountability.” I currently work for an organization that cultivates a high performance culture. Each employee is provided with a two page template of performance goals. In previous organizations I’ve worked for, the leader would collaborate with me to determine my performance goals. In my current organization, my leader emailed me a mandatory set of goals for my review. I deleted those I didn’t agree with, put them in my final document and emailed the final document to her. Upon her receipt of my performance plan, she contacted me and stated that the goals were formatted so that they would fit neatly into my document. I was quite shocked by this. Where was the collaboration? Apparently this was a one-way relationship and I am expected to agree with the policies.

In a high performance culture the leader and followers are expected to buy into corporate shared values and policies and are expected to apply these values to work life and interactions with others. Sometimes the values are rejected but many times are accepted as normal behavior. Another way to explain this type of organization is a concept called a Psychic Prison or Plato’s Cave. Gareth Morgan (2006) describes people who are together in an underground cave so that they cannot move. There is a fire burning and they can only see shadows of people and objects on the wall. To those on the inside of the cave, what they see and hear in the cave is reality, but when an outsider comes in, he finds it difficult to accept these conditions and has pity on his fellow cave dwellers/co-workers. When he tries to share the knowledge of the outside world, it may cause the cave dweller/co-worker to hold on tighter to their familiar ways of seeing things instead of embracing the new knowledge. A results oriented corporate culture gets that way because it has nurtured its followers through various leadership styles and it encourages submission. Sometimes these strong cultures with powerful visions of the future and expected commitments, can lead to their downfall. The company I work for is the cave and I am the outsider. The cave dwellers are expected to consistently work extra hours at home in order to complete the mandatory company administrative tasks because they need to be able to bill the customer 100% when they are at work. When I questioned a leader about this and asked how this was possible considering obligations in the home, the leader told me that “this was reality” and anyone that wants to work for this company has to accept the reality as it is. I cannot assimilate. In trying to understand this particular company and its culture, I began reading the biography about the founder of the company. It all began to make sense. As I began to establish relationships within the organization, I began to share the information from the book. A follower was just as curious as I and I gave him the book to read. He is sharing it with other cave dwellers. Why am I with this company? I am here to open the eyes of the cave dwellers and provoke others to work together to change this false sense of reality.

Creation of Submissive Leaders and Followers

When a company wants to persuade followers and leaders to perform at a superior level and they want to establish high standards of excellence for them to follow, the company uses the achievement oriented leadership style. Values of the company are created and passed along to leaders and followers as goals for them to achieve. Any personal goals the leader and follower set must be in line with the corporate goals and incorporated in the performance plan. Usually a leader or follower is given freedom to collaborate with the leader on goals set for a career path with the company but a results oriented company usurps that freedom and mandates what the leader or follower puts in the performance plan and they must obligate to those goals. Martha Cooley’s (1997) article in HR Magazine, explains that Russian expatriates are accustomed to a harsher form of the achievement oriented leadership style from the past. She said that the managers told everyone what to do and they did what they were told. They are acclimatized to the “’keep your mouth shut’ style of working-a natural result of years spent under a system in which to talk and ask questions was to invite trouble.” There was no such thing as collaboration. I cannot say for sure that had the Russian Manager been a leader, he would have been kinder, only he would be more concerned with directing, aligning and motivating his people and more emotionally involved. In both instances above, there is no motivation for the follower or leader to produce results, and the results produced are from compliance.

The corporation can achieve higher performance results from leaders and followers resulting in increased customer satisfaction when they choose a positive leadership style to motivate them. By using a participative leadership style the organization can allow the leader or follower to offer suggestions on training and developmental goals as well as work assignments. This would create buy-in, potentially resulting in higher performance, and satisfied customers.

Creation of a Voluntary Follower

In results-oriented companies, leaders face daily challenges to motivate their followers to be more productive in the work environment and they understand that their own raise is tied to the performance of their followers. My current company ties a $12,000 bonus or contingent reward to performance and the follower and leader only receives it if he or she reaches a target utilization rate (the amount of hours billable to the customer). In this situation, the leader has no choice but to have an agenda to motivate their followers to produce results in whatever leadership style they find effective. This type of leader may be inflexible, and will not be an effective motivator, causing friction within the organization. A young lady that works for my organization did not have all of the necessary documentation completed to begin work on her project, so she was placed in a room with computers, told to take computer based training and to research products, therefore her work was not billable to the client. She asked her leader if she could work from home and was told no and this left her feeling annoyed and bored because the tasks she completed could have been done from home and there are times when she just sits with nothing to do. She is actually contemplating looking for another job. She has only been with the company 2 ½ months. If this leader incorporates strategic thinking as an available tool, he could work with the follower and other leaders to come up with creative alternative solutions so that this follower doesn’t feel that her time is being wasted. This leader should know the vision for his section as well as how this follower fits into his organization and be able to explain it to her, otherwise she will be more motivated to leave the company.

Sometimes a leader’s personality plays a critical role in motivating a follower. In other words, the leader is able to influence the follower to be productive based on his or her intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity and sociability. If a leader has self-confidence, is comfortable listening to critical feedback from his followers, making the necessary changes, and can examine his leadership style he will probably receive a greater degree of productivity and loyalty. A motivated follower will feel compelled to help. In addition to personality, the leader may have the spiritual gift of ruling. This gift entails setting a good example in behavior and deed, being a mentor, and giving reprimands appropriately, resulting in increased positive responses from the followers and ultimately a highly satisfied customer, producing more profits for the company. The objective of this leader is to lead everyone toward the common goal and it can be accomplished without hidden agendas. In addition, if the leader will do as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 10:24, which is to not think only of your own good or that of the company but to think of what is best for others, the common goals can be achieved without resistance.

If You Motivate Them They Will Produce

Leaders have power through motivation and it is stimulated through leadership styles. If the organizations or leader prefers the achievement oriented leadership style, they can still obtain high performance if they stop touting mandatory invitations, add in a little collaboration, caring, are receptive to constructive feedback, and adopt listening skills. Leaders can also motivate based on personality, by being a good example, giving sound advice and disciplining as appropriate. Once the organization and leader is able to motivate the follower, the common goal of productivity can be achieved. So, can followers be motivated by leadership styles? The answer is, yes they can!