PowerPoints_Academic Forum_Santa Fe_102012

Not Seizing Opportunities: The
Effects of Laissez-Faire Leadership
C. W. Von Bergen
Southeastern Oklahoma State University
Seizing Opportunities …
• That’s what proactive people do
– Identify opportunities and act on them
– Show initiative
– Take action
– Persevere until meaningful change occurs
• Being proactive is associated with
– Career success
– Job performance
– Innovation and creativity
– Entrepreneurship
Bateman and Crant’s (1993)
Proactive Personality Scale
1. I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve my life.
2. Wherever I have been. I have been a powerful force for constructive change.
3. Nothing is more exciting than seeing my ideas turn into reality.
4. If I see something I don't like, I fix it.
5. No matter what the odds. if I believe in something I will make it happen.
6. 1 love being a champion for my ideas. even against others' opposition.
7. I excel at identifying opportunities.
8. I am always looking for better ways to do things.
9. If I believe in an idea, no obstacle will prevent me from making it happen.
10. I can spot a good opportunity long before others can.
Leaders with a Proactive Personality
• Intervene in response to
– Good performance
– Poor performance
Leaders Low in Proactive Personality
Do not challenge the status quo
Fail to identify opportunities
Show little initiative
Avoid decisions
Delay responses
Hesitate to take action
Resist expressing views
Absent when needed
• Characterize Laissez-faire Leaders
Laissez-faire Leadership*
• A management approach where the leader
has been nominated and still physically
occupies the leadership position, but where
he or she has more or less abdicated the
responsibilities and duties assigned to him
or her.
• Laissez-faire leaders do nothing
*Lewin, Lippitt, and White (1939)
Doing Nothing Does Something
–Demotivates good performers
• Decreases the probability of future
desired behavior
–Encourages poor workers
• Opens the door for increased levels of
undesired performance
Management Nonresponse to
Desirable Employee Performance
• Nonreinforced subordinate good performance
leads to negative subordinate affective and
behavioral responses
– Dissatisfaction
– Performance decrement
• Extinction may unintentionally occur
– Analogy: houseplants that do not get watered
wither away
Great Leaders and Organizations
• By providing occasions to acknowledge,
recognize, and reward meaningful
accomplishments, leaders create a culture
where progress and appreciation prevail.
• Great organizations create greater success by
praising and celebrating good performance,
that is, by positive reinforcement.
Management Nonresponse to
Undesirable Employee Performance
• Qui tacet consentire videtur.
• Wrongdoing is often self-rewarding to a worker
and involves an activity the person already finds
satisfying so the behavior often continues
• Creates disillusionment from the very people the
business relies most upon—those who
consistently produce good results.
• Ignoring undesirable behavior generally tends to
maintain or increase ineffective and inefficient
actions; more serious actions
What Do These Individuals
Have In Common?
• Pope John Paul II
• Coach Joe Paterno
• Major Nidal Hassan
Functional Effects of Negative Feedback
• Employees generally feel better about
their supervisor, coworkers, and
opportunities for advancement when their
leaders hold employees accountable for
poor performance.
• Bad apples spoil the barrel (Felps, Mitchell,
and Byington, 2006)
Laissez-faire Leaders
Destroy Organizations
• Not seizing opportunities
– to recognize good performance
– to address poor performance
• There is a high price of supervisory
In Conclusion …
• Managers seldom recognize the
dramatic impact of their own failure
to act on their subordinates
• Many performance issues are
created not only by what supervisors
do but also by what they don’t do.
… or am I making
Much Ado About NOTHING?

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