In new research published in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Development, three researchers from George Washington University challenge the age old assumption that people leave jobs because of their direct boss. What they found is that people are more inclined to leave because of a more senior functional leader in their organization.
If the research is in fact true and holds up to what are sure to be challenges from other academics, this has some profound implications for the way we recruit, develop and retain leaders at all levels in our organization.
First and foremost, our senior leaders need to be made explicitly aware of the shadow that they cast. They are under the microscope more than they ever realized and their actions, or lack thereof, have a huge ripple effect on the climate of an organization.
Secondly, we need to ensure that we have the right leaders in those roles. They need to be stars; “A” players. Because “A” players attract other “A” players. We all want to work for someone great, someone who intuitively gets it and challenges us to be at our best. The more credibility the leader has in their field, the better. This means that we need to help our leaders build credibility, help them establish themselves both internally an externally.
Stars have a magnetism about them. They draw others to them; it is a gravitational force that helps keep people engaged and willing to drive themselves harder. When that star fades, it loses its pull and people will no longer follow. We can help keep our stars shining bright with a few easy tactics:
1. Be on the ground with the employees, help the leadership team know what people are feeling, seeing, hearing
2. Remove any noise in the system that gets in the way of people doing their work
3. Remind leaders of their downstream impact
Keep these things in mind, and you will continue to bring out the best in your leaders and their people. If you are in the market for a new leader, remember that you want someone who has that magnetic draw about them.
Star Power is not easy to describe, but you will know it … if and when you see it.