Dyadic Leadership in the Office
In previous blog posts, I’ve spoken of the relationships between my co-workers as amiable and respectful. This was one of the first things that I noticed and I think it stood out to me because I was prepared to walk into a big corporation, especially one in the entertainment industry – often described as corrupt, underhanded, or cut-throat – to discover a hierarchy of business workers. However, I encountered a much different business setting, one in which the most powerful individuals were constantly checking in with all other co-workers without any indication that they are better, more talented, or deserve any more respect or credit. Simultaneously, I almost immediately recognized a very definitive willingness to learn and to work harder than was expected of each employee. I marked tangible metrics for this: inquiring about programs or projects to be apart of, staying well over hours (without extra pay) even without the boss present, and much extra research done both in the office and at home. I was astonished by the pure commitment to work.
I would describe this setting by the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory. In alignment with the theory, NBC offices are often associated with relationship-based leadership styles by which the managers and other “higher-ups” develop exchanges with their supporting co-workers. In turn, the quality of these exchanges influence all workers’ work ethics, responsibilities, and motivations. The more respect the manager applies towards his/her exchange with the subordinate, the more respect and hard work the subordinate will apply to their work. In theory, it makes sense, but working at NBC is the first time that I’ve witnessed the application of the LMX theory.
More specific examples of the LMX theory in my office at WNBC include my manager saying good morning and using every person’s name, including my own even before I had introduced myself, his weekly emails to check in with the office as a whole, and his efforts to host meetings with food and drinks where we all get to casually catch up. The result is a more relaxed atmosphere (to the extent that there is no competition to “get on the boss’ good side,” for power) and an effort to maintain a more respectful discussion when disagreement or conflict resides. All in all, the LMX theory is very effective for healthy work interaction and sets the precedent for integrity and dedication to NBC as a company.
Because the LMX theory applies these sort of familial, respectful attributes to a, generally considered, chaotic, aggressive setting, the theory avoids problems of corruption. An example of such might be maltreatment because one employee regards another as ill equipped because the manager pays less attention to that individual. Corruptive politics can be incredibly damaging, but prevented by the LMX theory.