In his TED Talk, management theorist Simon Sinek drew a sharp distinction between bosses — authority figures who wield power over their employees — and leaders, business professionals who understand what makes their people tick and how to motivate them.
He illustrated the distinction by comparing military leaders at the small-unit level, "who sacrifice themselves so that others may gain," and corporate executives, "who give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others."
The difference between them is leaders understand human behavior and rely on their insights to motivate and inspire confidence and trust. Bosses are just bosses.
"The perceived effectiveness of the leader is a criterion that is expressed through evaluations related to their leaders and aims to reveal how the leader affects an organization," according to a study titled "Analysis of Leader Effectiveness in Organization and Knowledge Sharing Behavior on Employees and Organization."
How Do Business Professionals Acquire Insights Into Human Behavior?
Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) often include courses that equip graduates with interpersonal skills that enable them to interact, work and relate effectively with others.
The MBA program offered online by the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, for instance, includes courses that explore the following:
- Organizational Theory and Behavior: Examine individual and group dynamics and the influence of organizational structures and processes on behavior.
- Leadership and Change: Investigate relationships between change management and the principles of organizational change, strategies, structures and culture.
- Behavioral Finance: Delve into the rationales and motivations that drive corporate and investor behavior, specifically addressing psychological barriers to maximizing value creation.
"When you understand human behavior, you improve your chances of making your business succeed," Darren Kaplan, CEO of the data-driven human resources consultant hiQ, told Training Industry.
How Do Companies Benefit From Leaders Who Understand Human Behavior?
The professional development provider says leaders with strong interpersonal skills based on insights into human behavior can motivate staff — individually and in teams — to achieve their full potential, meet and exceed expectations and achieve business goals.
Those leaders create a workplace environment that amounts to competitive advantage by, among other things:
- Engaging employees: The "Great Resignation" and its cousin, "quiet quitting," result from management's failure to understand employee motivation. De-motivated workers lose interest in their work and detach. Effective business leaders understand why employees engage with their work; bosses concentrate on how to make them do it, whether by reward or punishment.
- Improving workplace culture: The workplace environment, which is a combination of corporate values, policies, resource availability and management, directly affects employees' behavior, positively and negatively. A culture grounded in behavioral science builds loyalty and commitment, which drives productivity and reduces employee churn.
- Building effective teams: By understanding individual employees' psychological triggers and motivations, effective leaders can build groups of people who complement one another's behaviors and resolve conflicts when they arise.
Lantern, which provides behavioral sciences consulting to organizations and businesses, notes that advertising and marketing have long depended on understanding human behavior to drive brand awareness and sales.
"However, in the past five years, there has been an increased focus on using behavioral science insights inside organizations themselves to improve the employee experience and increase productivity," Lantern says.
Students in the University of North Carolina Pembroke's online MBA program will graduate with an understanding of the personal and professional value of acknowledging human behavior and emphasizing interpersonal skills in the workplace.
Learn more about the University of North Carolina Pembroke's online MBA program.
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