Implicit Leadership Theory

My boss, Johnathan, is a forty-seven year old male, which is pretty consistent with the stereotype of a typical leader.  During my first few weeks of work before I got to know him better, I thought he was an amazing boss.  He had previously thought of projects for me and gave me clear directives without hesitation.  Once I finished his initial projects, he became a lot slower at assigning me things, and I noticed that he is relatively soft-spoken, indecisive, and non-authoritative.  That type of behavior works better when we are planning out a long term goal or talking through a marketing strategy because it is a conversation where I feel like an equal, but when it comes to assigning me projects I need to be told what to do.  After I finished a project, I asked him what else I could help with and he said we’d sit down and talk about it.  A couple hours went by and he finally told me my next project was to think about how to market Team Excel. No direction, no end date, no scheduled meeting to talk about what I came up with. When I think of a leader, I think of someone who knows the answers, is a good delegator, knows how to prioritize, and can make decisions on their feet.  The longer I work for Johnathan, the further he seems to depart from my ideal of a leader and seems to become a less effective boss.

I want to contrast his profile with the profile of the woman I worked under to plan the Team Excel Gala, Valencia. She is tall and athletic, two physical traits that are part of most people’s idea of a leader.  She is also charismatic and energetic, two personality traits usually consistent with the perfect leader.  During crises, Valencia was quick on her feet and made executive decisions easily.  When I was buying supplies/decorations, I realized if we got all of the things on the list, we would be over budget.  Valencia was quick to weigh the pros and cons of downgrading to cheaper quality items or scrapping a certain aspect altogether.  That decisiveness and pulling rank cemented her as a good leader in my mind. There was a great balance of directing people, delegating tasks, and showing appreciation for their work.  I admired her a lot and thought she was a great leader. The people who worked under Valencia were efficient and got a lot done.

When comparing Valencia and Johnathan, I think of Valencia as the better leader.  She happens to have more traits that are consistent with my implicit idea of leadership, which contributed to more productiveness and follower satisfaction.  Those things also lend themselves to viewing a leader as effective.  I think I was overall happier working under Valencia because she acted more consistently with what I expect from my bosses.

One thought on “Implicit Leadership Theory

  • August 1, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Good to recognize your implicit ideas about good leaders; very thoughtful reflection. Would be so interesting if you had others (e.g. other interns) to talk with in regards to their perspectives about these two individuals, just so you could check-in with others perceptions. Again, as I noted with your last ‘theory in action’ post, should you select implicit leadership theory for the fall paper, you’ll need to continue to identify and note other examples that illustrate elements of the theory (as well as those that do not, those that run counter, etc.).

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