Paycheck Leadership




"Remember that piece of paper that comes in the mail at the end of the month?" remarked one big boss to his underlings about their paychecks. "If you don't like what's happening, before you complain, remember that."
Defining "Paycheck leadership" - Although others define it differently, as I see it, this is "paycheck leadership." It's the kind of leadership that people in positions of authority engage in when they have 1) Have their own private agenda and care not a whit for involving stakeholders in decision-making; 2) Fail to communicate their expectations, agenda; 3) Don't even pretend to care about their stakeholders', the job they are about so long as their agenda gets met; 4) Use the paycheck as a whip to crack when performance lags.
Those words, the tone they were delivered in, sent chills down the backs of the people present who later related the story to me. I couldn't help but feel their pain. Somehow, we find ourselves in jobs where a monthly paycheck keeps us showing up in body, but not in spirit. I like how Kathy Larson describes this kind of false leadership, this "paycheck power:"
As an employer, you inherit “paycheck power”-- the power to write paychecks, to hire and fire, to make the rules, and to enforce them. Paycheck power says, “I pay people, so they should do what I want. I should be successful, and they should work hard.”
How do you recapture the enthusiasm for your job when the only motivator that counts, according to the boss, is the one you get in the mail or the payment you get via direct deposit? That kind of attitude is demoralizing and tears at one's spirit.
‎"No corporation ever achieved greatness by demoralizing its employees. No corporation ever successfully sustained organizational change without the buy-in from those on the front lines expected to implement that change!" (Source: Rita Solnet, Huffington Post)
Now that education faces massive cuts, after the illusion of surviving a bad economy, what motivation will the big boss in the scenario above appeal to get the most out of the people who need to bring about change, implement innovative approaches to get the job done with less cost?

Who cares? If I were inclined to curse, I'd use stronger words to say "Screw 'em." That kind of "leader" doesn't get anything done, and, in fact, isn't worth one's time...they have temporal authority but no influence.

Here's what I see the leader's responsibility is:

  1. Identify the needs of the organization and the people it serves.
  2. Work with stakeholders to articulate those into strategic goals and objectives.
  3. Provide financial support, freedom, and encouragement for them to come up with their own solutions and get the work done.
  4. Help clarify expectations and hold people accountable for what they said they would do.
  5. Care for the people you are responsible for.
Larson describes it as "the power of service and success." Yes, that's it exactly. 



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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