How Personal Should Leadership Be?

In my organizational leadership class a younger member of the class made an observation about her student government organization during her undergraduate work.  She believed that one reason it was not very successful was that the freshmen president provided no opportunities to socialize outside of student government meetings with the other members of student government.   I think this was good insight, but it also brings interesting questions about leadership to my mind.  How relational should leadership be today?  How socially familiar does a servant leader need to be with the people he or she is trying to lead? 

 

I think this is a subject that is changing in our present culture.  The answer to those questions may differ somewhat depending on a person’s age.  In Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job” he describes the 3 signs as anonymity, irrelevance and what he calls, immeasurement.  Anonymity is the feeling that “their manager has little interest in them as a human being and that they know little about their lives, their aspirations and their interests.”  These 3 signs have probably always been signs of a miserable job, but the generation that is entering the workforce now and has been over the last 10 years seems to value them even more.  (I recently posted a blog about this issue: Managing in Today’s Workplace

 

I believe I can say from my parent’s generation that there was almost a “hands-off” approach between the leader in a company and the employees; and most employees seemed to want the separation.  I also know when I first entered the world of management this atmosphere was still in place.  I’ve watched it gradually change over the years. 

 

I’m curious the readers of this blog how much involvement you want from the leaders in your personal life.  Do you want your boss to know you personally or would you prefer the relationship remain strictly professional?  Or, perhaps a better questions, especially for the younger generation, do you even see leadership as professional today if there isn’t a level of personalism?

 

(BTW, apparently personalism is a relatively new word.  It didn’t survive my spell-check, but Dictionary.com defines it as: Also called personal idealism. a modern philosophical movement locating ultimate value and reality in persons, human or divine.  I find that interesting in light of this post’s discussion.)

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