Are You A Quality Leader? Principles 7-12 (Part 2/3)


We should avoid the use of coercive power whenever possible.  When we use it we should remember that we all pay a cost in its exercise — giver and receiver. The best decisions are those in which we all participate and concur. The next best are those decisions in which everyone is asked for their input before something is decided. Of course, we will have the occasional no discussion decisions in our work.  When we do, we should make a commitment to our employees that we agree to critique those decisions whenever possible. Tom Gordon in Leader Effectiveness Training, illustrates the costs to leaders who use coercive power to get the job done: costs of time, enforcement, alienation, stress and diminishing influence. There is also the cost of making a less-than- quality decision because communication and information between employees and leaders who use coercive power is greatly reduced.

  • Describe a situation in the workplace in which coercive power was used to get you to do something.
  • How did you feel?  Why do you think you felt that way?
  • What are the best ways to get others to do what you would like them to do?
  • How can you avoid using coercive power and avoid having your leaders use it on you?


This is a fundamental principle regarding people.  It should help us to look at how we view our employees. Do we believe that they can be trusted, are mature adults, and want to do a good job? Or do we believe that they are untrustworthy, immature, and want to avoid work? This principle causes some supervisors a great deal of difficulty. They have trouble accepting the notion that they should trust their employees. Let’s look at how many of your employees are in the first group and how many are in the second? We believe 95% of our employees fall into the first group and 5% or less fall into the second group.  For too long, the actions of the 5% have dictated the rules and policies and how the organization is run. We believe that the actions of the 5% should not dictate how the rest of the employees are treated in the workplace. Five-percenters should be responded to in a prompt and fair way. Rules should not be written based on the behavior of the five percent nor should the department be run as if all employees were in the five percent group. The five percent must, however, be dealt with and not ignored.  We have all heard a great deal about the need for consistency and fairness in the disciplinary process. Being fair is more important.

  • What rules or policies do you have that should be modified, changed, or even eliminated according to the 95/5 rule?  How could they become more positive?
  • Is there a need for a policy manual in an organization run on the 95/5 rule? What would be the function of the policy manual in a quality organization?
  • How would you attempt to improve the performance of an employee of yours who is in the five percent?


Teamwork is working together. It is harnessing and using the skills and abilities of every person on the team to achieve the team’s goal whether it is solving a crime, investigating, or resolving a problem (whether it is a problem work or in the community). Teamwork helps the group be successful. Teamwork is experiencing the high state in which everyone is part of a well-functioning, harmonious group — a team.

Being a team is taking pride in the group’s collective achievements and believing in the ability of the collective over any one person’s individual effort. When this happens, it is called synergy – the combined interaction of people that produces a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individuals themselves. We should try to do our work in teams whenever possible.

  • In what situations have you used teamwork in your organization?
  • What are some situations you haven’t used teamwork and should have?
  • What is it that prevents you from working in teams more often?
  • How can you overcome those barriers?


This principle tries to capture the importance of progress and moving forward with a team effort. We plan where we are going and establish agreed-upon ways to achieve that goal with input and discussion with our employees. We help create a vision. Our job is then to gain alignment of that vision with our practices and to listen to our employees and help them to “buy-in” to these goals and how we will work to achieve them. We can do that by coaching our employee — not by telling and controlling them.  Long-term goals are essential to the performance of a quality organization. Once goals are set, it is critically important for leaders to follow-up and, at least weekly (if not daily) to coach employees to success. There is a technique used to achieve maximum performance of individuals and is frequently used by athletes to capture world records. It is called visioning — mentally picturing yourself achieving your goal.  For example, jumping higher or running faster or further than you have ever done before! Organizations need to create similar visions of excellence.

  • Think of something that needs to be done at work; something you are responsible for. How could a team approach be used to accomplish this?
  • What are your personal leadership goals for this year?
  • How could a team from your unit be used to help you accomplish these goals?
  • What measures of success could you use?


This is a commitment to ask your employees about what the key decisions are in the workplace. They may be staffing levels, assignments, transfers, or taking time off. Whatever they may be, they are things that employees feel are decisions on key matters; not things you or I think. The commitment is to ask before these decisions are made. It does not mean that you must do what your employees believe you should do. (This is a very important point in the Principles: our commitment is to input; we may, in fact, do what our employees want, or we may choose to delegate to them our authority to make the decision, or we may simply take their input under advisement, but we promise to ask them before we make key decisions.) Key decisions are the 3-5 things in the workplace that are very important to workplace satisfaction as defined by the employee. They may be determined either by individuals or by groups of employees. Key decisions should be discussed and an agreement reached as to what constitutes these key decision areas.

Leaders should then agree to ask for employee input on these key decision areas before they make any decisions regarding them. Employee input does not mean decision making by taking a vote without group discussion. It is the power of group discussion, hearing everyone’s point of view, understanding and deliberating, which makes group decision making far more effective than one person’s decision or a group of individuals voting without discussion. When employee input is requested it should be clear at the beginning of the process how the decision will be made and who will make the final decision – the group or the leader. This means to be up front and be honest.

  • What are the key decisions in your work unit that you, personally, wish to be able to have input on?
  • Why are leaders sometimes hesitant to seek employee’s input? Is sharing authority (or power) losing something or could it be gaining something?
  • How would you encourage an employee (or employees) to continue to give input after you did not follow his/her previous advice? What would you say?


How do we develop respect and trust in the workplace? One of the keys is to do unto others as you would have them do to you.  People want to be respected and trusted.

Bosses who show respect and trust have respected and trusted employees.  We must come to the workplace with the basic belief that our employees deserve respect and can be trusted — that’s why we hired them in the first place. For example, when checking out a complaint regarding an employee there are ways to do it which may not compromise the respect and trust of the individual involved. In many cases, our attitudes have a more lasting impact than our words or the processes we use. Our employees have a right to know what’s going on, when the process has been completed and what our findings are. In every case, except those in which a serious, dismissible offense has occurred, we want to correct and rehabilitate employees and get them back to duty. We must all be committed to driving fear out of our workplace.

  • What would be a first step we all could do to increase trust in our workplaces?
  • How would your employees know you respected and trusted them?
  • How can you assure accountability to the public and maintain our integrity without creating fear?
  • What are the goals of a disciplinary system? Does your current system meet these goals?  If not, why? And what can be done?
  • Are there other ways or systems you could use to achieve the above goals? What are they?  How could you use them?



[The above materials and many others can be found in The Quality Leadership Workbook (Couper, 2017).

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