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 inaction 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. • DOING NOTHING DOES SOMETHING NOT SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES TO ADDRESS EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE IS PROBLEMATIC AND THERE IS A HIGH COST OF DOING NOTHING … or am I making Much Ado About NOTHING?