October 17, 2013, 3:16 PM — "Employee engagement" is all the rage among leadership experts, especially since news broke that pretty much everyone worldwide hates their job (a.k.a., they’re "disengaged").
So, if a manager wants to create an atmosphere in which his or her employees care about their job and feel like they're not just biding time, which is the better management style: the nice boss or the tough boss?
Leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman tell Harvard Business Review that it's not a matter of being the good cop or the bad cop - the best bosses are a little bit of both.
Instead of being Mel Gibson or Danny Glover, be both. Wait, that may be a case of crazy cop vs. ready-to-retire cop, but you get the picture.
"Leaders need to think in terms of 'and' not 'or,' " they write. "Leaders with highly engaged employees know how to demand a great deal from employees, but are also seen as considerate, trusting, collaborative, and great developers of people."
The pair state that if you're the "nice guy" boss, don't be afraid of setting high standards and demands - employees like and want that. Similarly, if you're the "tough boss," don't think that being considerate or more open would negate their desire to get the work done at the level you require.
The men conducted a study that rated employee engagement and found that the majority of those engaged termed their boss as both "nice" and "tough."
"The two approaches are like the oars of a boat. Both need to be used with equal force to maximize the engagement of direct reports," the men state.
Click below for more on the pair's employee engagement study and how the different leadership styles affected their direct reports' engagement.