The best leaders set clear performance expectations for their people at the beginning of each year, give feedback regularly throughout the year, and reinforce behavior by rewarding performance fairly at the end of the year.
Right? Not quite.
Today, when ordinary people are highly empowered and leaders are completely exposed, leadership communication can no longer be as one-way (from leader to follower) as the statement above implies. Until recently, it was considered a leader’s duty to set performance expectations and manage employees closely, with the objective of ensuring that stated goals are achieved. We’ve now reached the moment in human history when this logic needs to be reversed. Now, employees decide how much and when they want to work, and consequently, how much they succeed.
Employees are more empowered now than ever
In the 20th century, many believed that people are inherently lazy, and must be coerced and controlled through scientific management methods to drive performance. I am not sure if it was true back then or not, but in today’s work environement, when knowledge and information have been democratized, and the 24/7 gig economy is providing much higher levels of empowerment and freedom, we cannot assume the applicability of this theory and manage people based on the “people are inherently lazy” paradigm. Today, people are fully aware of the consequences of their actions, and can choose when and how much to work based on how they want to be rewarded.
Take the case of drivers for the private transportation company Uber. If we plot the earnings of all Uber drivers in New York City on a chart, like most performance distributions, we will most likely get a bell-shaped curve in which roughly 20 percent of the drivers will be high earners,...
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