It is a mistake to think that you can extract the labor from someone simply by paying them a wage. Employees have to give their labor on an ongoing basis. For this to happen the employee needs to accept the instruction of his/her boss. The employee needs to give the boss the right to tel him/her what to do. Those in leadership positions can only lead if the people they are leading have given the leader this right. It is in fact the employees, not the leader, who ultimately decides to what degree they are prepared to be led. At the end of they day, a leader only has as much power as his/her employees grant. Without appropriate leadership skills, this won’t happen.
The leaders standing with regards to his/her people can be felt in the prevailing climate among employees. When the leader and his/her authority is accepted, his/her presence is welcomed. The leader tends to be the go to person for employee concerns. They support the leaders’ decision and accept disciplinary action when it is applied.
When the leader and his/her authority is not accepted however, there will be resistance, either subtle or overt to the leader and his/her presence will not be welcomed. Subtle resistance might include things like snide remarks, sarcasm, gossiping, disinvestment from instructions, dragging feet, acting only under direct instruction. Overt resistance might include things like a breakdown in communications, refusal to follow instruction, a go slow, a strike or even a parting of the ways. If resistance exists in whatever form, other than among a disaffected minority, there is leadership work to be done.
It is very important to understand that the difference between an accepted leader and a resisted leader cannot be solved by paying people more. For employees to accept the authority of the leader, it is necessary that they accept that the authority is being used legitimately. The key challenge facing anyone in authority, therefore, is that of establishing and then maintaining the legitimacy of that authority. Getting leadership right is not about paying people, it is about understanding what makes authority/power legitimate.
This is not to say we shouldn’t pay people, because clearly we should pay fairly. But understand, paying people puts bums on seats, it does not engage hearts and minds. Leadership skills engage hearts and minds.