Worthwhile article that hits on a number of issues. We can discuss the “self-esteem epidemic” and the nature of leadership and leadership styles.
For instance, Martin mentions Steve Jobs’ no-nonsense leadership style in unambiguously positive terms. Fire a B- or C-teamer on the spot rather than accept a crappy design.
Now, one thing we’ve got a pretty good handle on in leadership theory and research is that there are two basic dimensions or categories of leader behaviors — initiating structure (task-oriented) and showing consideration (relationship-oriented). Both of these are positively related to various good outcomes in the workplace.
It seems that Mr. Martin favors a task-first approach for leadership to make America its most competitive self. This is pretty consistent with Goal-Setting Theory, one of the other well-supported empirical findings in applied psychology and management: Difficult, specific goals lead to higher levels of task performance, on average, than vague, easy, or “do your best” goals. This is partially because such goals focus attention and indicate levels of acceptable performance, and encourage persistence until the task is accomplished (I’m being a bit woolly on this, but it’s close enough for government work).
Still, in general, people are not always satisfied with hard-nosed leadership. They’re more likely to turnover in these environments. Is that bad, though? It could be what’s known as “functional turnover”, which basically means that the dead weight quit, but the real superstars stay working for you.
I don’t have answers here, just some thoughts that this article led me to consider.