What does effective leadership actually mean? And how do I know whether my management style is optimally utilising and even expanding the potential of my employees? The Leadnow Navigator helps managers to find out how they can optimise the impact of their leadership work. Leadership is effective when it gets the best out of every situation. Depending on the vis-à-vis, depending on the situation, depending on the mood, this can mean very different things. However, the overriding goal always remains the same: to bring the employee into the optimum zone:

Y-axis: Optimum pressure

The most effective employees are those in the "optimum pressure", i.e. in the zone between overload and underload. If they are overwhelmed, they need energy to find escape routes or to keep their fear in check. This energy is lacking in the search for solutions. If they are underchallenged, the line manager is left with issues that could actually be dealt with by the employees. 

X-axis: Goal and people-orientation

Every leadership action should trigger optimum pressure in the vis-à-vis (almost every one, occasionally it can be comfort). In the horizontal axis, the effect may be scattered: As a team, goals are achieved most effectively when the needs of the organisation (goal orientation) and the needs of the employees (people orientation) are well balanced. In other words, the optimum dot pattern looks like this:

In case of doubt: human - or target-orientation?

Managers would do well to reflect on their hierarchy of values. When the going gets tough, do I prioritise the needs of the company over the needs of the employees, or vice versa? In concrete terms, would I dismiss someone if they are unwilling or unable to do certain things? Or would I accept it? 

A simple question that is not so easy to answer. Because it depends. 

I often experience, especially in value-oriented (e.g. religious) institutions, that employees are tolerated who have a toxic effect on the organisation (but it's such a poor person, they can't find anything else). You protect the person and poison the climate. (Important: The person in and of itself is not bad or poisonous. But it just doesn't fit). 

However, I often experience the opposite: people who work at their desks optimise shareholder value by cutting jobs to make profits look a little prettier. The message: employees are a means to an end, used for as long as necessary and dropped to make the numbers look good. 

There are also impressive examples: A management decides to cut all salaries so that nobody has to leave the company - the high salaries much more severely, of course, because every one per cent pay cut hurts people with low salaries much more.

It depends. However, an explicit hierarchy of values helps immensely in making effective decisions. Does the company serve the employees or do the employees serve the company?

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Sources: Lippmann, E. (2018).  Handbook of Applied Psychology forManagers: Leadership Expertise and Leadership Knowledge.