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How leadership style impacts followers

Leadership has everything to do with how followers respond to the required action/change. A perfect example is where I worked during an economic downturn in the 1980’s, when I was laid off from my usual job, worked for a pizza restaurant chain in the Seattle area. Because it was a chain, the menu and product sold was the same from place to place. I was 25 years old, so began as the ‘bartender,’ serving beer & wine, and backup scullery, and was soon promoted to supervisor, and ran the kitchen. I floated between three stores, each had a different manger, with different management styles. I will show how tow mangers’ actions impacted the success or problems of each store.

How the store sales, customer satisfaction, and worker retention were significantly different in each store. The worker expectations were different as well: most workers were high school students, and their socio-economic status played into the workers’ commitment and competency.

In the Eastside store, which is close to where Bill Gates lives, had a curious mix of low- and high-socio-economic students. The high-socio-economic workers viewed the job as a status symbol, rather than a valuable source of experience and economic assistance. The rest of the workers needed the money and most didn’t have transportation to any of the other stores, but spent most of their time complaining and gossiping about the manager’s actions. The manager was a 30-something frustrated manager who was stuck at a certain level, because of her attitude and abilities, and often partied, arriving at work the next day stinking of cigarettes, booze, and hung over. She showed up late, uniform dirty, spent most of the time in the office, smoking (that was before smoking was banned from restaurants) and talking to friends on the company phone (cell phones weren’t available yet). Thus, she was a low-support, low-direction (impoverished) supervisor. The workers were angry, did not do a good job, did not clean the facility very well, and the store had high turnover. The best part of this business was take-out – most of the repeat customers seldom visited the store. I’d say that this manger had D3 status, and thus the poor attitude as well as the lack of commitment.

The north end store, closest to Boeing and the Port of Everett, who had a new manager, who was still learning management (D1), but had loads of commitment both to higher management and the crew, was well-liked by the workers. The manger, realizing the benefit to him available from the workers who had been with the company the longest, made sure he let them know how much he valued their input, and gave them as much freedom from direction as they wanted. He also had these workers as backup trainers to the newer workers. The workers who had been in the store the longest always provided information as to policies and procedures to the manager, who was appreciative of the assistance. The crew as comprised of mostly low-income high school students who needed the work, so were motivated to making the work situation as comfortable as possible. The store had the highest sales, both take-out and eat-in, with the least employee turnover, highest customer satisfaction, was voted the best pizza store in Everett three years running. Straw Hat sponsored girls’ baseball, and boys’ soccer teams, who always came to this store for team events, even though in most cases, they loved closer to the Eastside store because of how well they were treated.

The north-end store manager went on to be a corporate darling, and kept the franchise going in the Seattle area longer than many others. It needs to be said that the North-end socio-economic resources were nowhere near what the Eastside had available, but did not manage to tap.

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