Mirror, mirror on the wall ... am I the fairest leader of them all?"
If you're a business manager, you better know your leadership style, says a recent Penn State survey. Business managers who are well aware of their leadership style are more likely to succeed at their jobs than their peers, concludes John Sosik, associate professor of management and organization at Penn State Great Valley Graduate School, after surveying 83 managers and their subordinates and supervisors.
"Leaders need to be aware of the way they present themselves to their followers," Sosik says. "Self-aware managers tend to be the best performers because they are able to change their behavior and adapt to changes in the organizational environment, whether that's new technology, working with people from different cultures or leading new business initiatives."
Most importantly, Sosik found that managers, who are self-aware of their leadership styles and rated themselves on a similar level as subordinates, tended to get the best marks from supervisors and they proved to be the most successful in their work environments.
Sosik's research also showed that over-estimators—those managers that rated themselves more highly than their subordinates—tend to be more assertive and aggressive, but much less adaptable and trusted within their work environment. "Over-estimators are the arrogant types; they tend to self-decieve themselves, and they don't respond well to negative feedback," says Sosik.
At the other end of the spectrum, the under-estimators' results were more ambiguous. Overall, however, they tended to be rated highly by their subordinates and supervisors, proving that "the main thing keeping the under-estimators down would appear to be a lack of self-confidence," Sosik says.
The study, "Self-Other Agreement on Charismatic Leadership: Relationships with Work Attitudes and Managerial Performance," points to the need for companies to develop coaching programs to improve their managers' skills in the areas of charismatic leadership and emotional intelligence.
"The psychological contract between the employer and employee is not as strong as it used to be," Sosik concludes. "Companies are moving toward a sharing leadership, and the roles of trust and organizational commitment are very important. It's up to the manager to bring out the best in his or her charges."