The role of a leader in an organization is analogous to that of a captain of a ship who steers the ship in the right direction. As the ship is not just a metal and motor body, an organization is not just some concrete buildings and a set of lifeless procedures. It is the human factor which make these organizations lively filled with dynamics which is still a subject of study by sociologists, administrators and experts world wide. I have tried to summarize some of my findings in this article.
Decades ago, Douglas McGregor has tried to categorize human beings into X and Y. More about this theory can be found here. I would not subscribe to an idea that human beings can be categorized into such watertight compartments. A more realistic view would be that a human being sometimes behaves according to theory X and sometimes according to theory Y. Either X or Y, one important point that is not to be ignored by the leaders in an organization is not to make people unhappy by needless interventions. The point I am trying to make here is that one of the most important role of leaders is as enablers. They should provide an enabling, happy and positive environment to the people in the organization so that everyone in the organization gives the best of his abilities. A leader should not get into the nitty-gritty of the daily affairs in an organization as his mental and physical faculties are to be employed more and more towards the broad vision of an organization and taking care to see that the organization i.e the people in the organization are giving their best to realize such a vision. This is again similar to the role of the captain of a ship who does not himself act as a navigator, deck cadet and chief steward. He still decides the direction in which the ship moves. His commands are obeyed not because he is the captain but because of the faith of his subordinates in those commands. Because of the faith that the captain would always steer them in the right direction.
English is an ambiguous language and there could be misinterpretations when I say that a leader should keep people happy. This statement in no way intends to say that the leader should cater to the whims and fancies of people in an organization. As I said earlier, an enabling and a free environment has to be created by the leader. In spite of such efforts, if some people in the organization (called outliers) do not act in the interests of the organization or in the worst case, act to the detriment of the organization, then they have to be treated in a different manner which in itself is a topic of discussion.
Look for more topics related to organizations in my future articles.