Take your pick! Palak Bhatia discusses the pros and cons of giving employees the liberty to pick leaders of their choice

Should employees be given the
opportunity to choose who their leader should be? Though this is very desirable, there are a number of critical factors that can hinder this process and pose problems.
Many employees feel that they must have a say in choosing their leaders. Manuel D’Souza, chief human resource officer, Serco Global Services, explains, “The foundation of a good relationship between a leader and the team is laid on trust and respect. It encourages individuals to work together to achieve the team goals, thus resulting in outstanding productivity and high quality output. Individuals inherit skills and knowledge from the leader and introduce them into their work tactics and daily activities. If feasible, an employee should have a choice to choose the leader. It is very important to have a feeling of ‘belongingness’ between the two. An employee feels that the leader of their choice will be more proactive to their suggestions and opinions in organisational endeavours.”
Choosing their own leader imparts a sense of power and engagement too. Ashish Arora, founder & MD, HR Anexi, agrees, “One of the potential rewards of high performance is the opportunity to work in one’s chosen team and domain. Getting to choose one’s leader validates and recognises an employee’s contribution within the company. The value of working and growing with the chosen leader improves the employee’s engagement and tenure with the organisation.”
However, there are some organisational structures that can support the system of choosing one’s own leaders. Devraj Shetty, MD, India, LRN, elaborates, “Leadership that is thrust upon employees or dependent on hierarchical titles is limiting and cannot sustain peak performance of their teams. While a democratic process in leadership selection may be desirable, the path for 21st century organisations is in moving towards a flat and selfgoverning culture where every employee sees himself/herself as a leader. Such a self-governing environment is
manifested when there are high levels of trust and employees pursue not only success, but also work towards a larger purpose-filled mission.”
IS IT PRACTICAL TO ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO PICK THEIR LEADERS?
Sampatkumar B Aratti, VP & chief human resources officer, Lapp India Pvt Ltd, answers,“In an organisation, it becomes very difficult to allow an employee to choose his/her leader. The reasons include:

• If every workplace is that democratic, the whole process of electing leaders would lead to a loss of valuable time and slump in the productivity level. It is ideal that the management decides which leader has the required abilities;

• If employees are allowed to take this decision, there can be situations where they choose managers who are easygoing and do not have the required expertise to drive a team;

• Many employees may not have the maturity to decide on their leaders from an organisational point of view.”

Source :The Times of India.
Date : 22/05/2013

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