D. A. Handoyo
Super interesting. This is a topic I think about a lot given the importance of leadership HBS constantly emphasizes, which I worry will perpetuate this aura of grandiose a lot of modern corporate leaders seem to ascribe to themselves (which of course, manifests in the increasing CEO-worker pay gap).
That 0-40% range reminded me of the theory of leadership Gen. (Ret.) Stan McChrystal explored in his book “Leaders: Myth and Reality”. He argued that the impact leaders have are largely contextual, and outcomes will depend on the fit between a leader’s character and the situation he faces (social, organizational, etc.), hence rather than sitting at the top of a pyramid, leaders should reposition themselves as a node as part of a network.
This finding isn’t new – basically the concept of servant leadership – but when comp plans don’t reflect that leaders are “there to help you be successful” and “part of the same team”, platitudes like those just rings hollow to me.
What an interesting example of an employee’s “illusion of choice”. We’ve discussed before how power differential between employer and employee can make these programs with opt-out mechanisms de facto mandatory for employees, but even in a seemingly-innocent case as this, conflicting design choices (i.e., having a leaderboard) still reduce this choice to be little more than an illusion. Yet another reminder to explicitly lay out and war-game the design choices when establishing these privacy-related programs.
Guilty as charged. I’ve fallen to this multiple times as a fellow consultant. Given that time is always in short supply, I think the cure involves two things: (1) approaching project decision-making in an aggressively speedy but incremental manner, in a way that allows for course-corrections and (2) some level of intuition, developed over time and imparted by senior leaders for junior team members, of how wide the range of potential conclusions can be. Getting fixated on a narrative with a limited, close set of outcomes is less of a problem than a situation where potential outcomes vary by a huge factor.
Can’t help but chuckle at the opening descriptions – they are spot on! I love the idea of using these pulse checks sort of as a speedometer to gauge reactions to proactive interventions, such a refreshing take as I hated that “What could we do better to improve our situation?” question with fervor. A bit of concern with point #3 though, as individualized insights will require a certain level of breaking that anonymity veil. Depending on the culture set by leadership, the knowledge that the surveys can be traced back to a person or a unit can elicit less-than-truthful responses.