x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Leaders are being watched

The Life: If the whole world were watching, would you lead differently? Leadership expert Tommy Weir notes how sites like glassdoor.com can help executives and managers.

The online forum glassdoor.com allows people to 'anonymously share an inside look at jobs and companies'. Matthew Staver / Bloomberg News
The online forum glassdoor.com allows people to 'anonymously share an inside look at jobs and companies'. Matthew Staver / Bloomberg News

Executives in this part of the world might lead differently if they knew the whole world was watching.

And it is watching.

These days, thanks to a site called glassdoor.com, anyone can get an inside look at a company, job or specific leader.

According to its own description, glassdoor.com is "a free career community where anyone can find and anonymously share an inside look at jobs and companies.

"What sets us apart is that all our information comes from current and former employees, interview candidates, and even the companies themselves".

The site is not just for multinational companies or firms based in the West. More than 250 businesses based in the UAE are listed on glassdoor.com. The idea of public disclosure on leadership is anathema to many executives and managers, as it means private actions within an organisation are finding their way into the public spotlight for anyone to read.

For leaders, it is troubling enough that their effectiveness may be discussed during coffee conversations with colleagues.

But now the forum for discussion is open for the world to join in, and those joining in include future employees, friends, relatives and even potential employers who might want to hire leaders.

A typical view in the workplace is that confidential comments should not be allowed to be publicly shared, as employees can say anything they want and get away with it.

This leads me to wonder: why would employees lie in public about their bosses? It is a very risky practice, so there must be some truth in the comments being made.

Sure, the one-off bad assignment or negative performance feedback can upset an employee, but rarely is this enough to cause that employee to vent on a site such as glassdoor.com for the whole world to see.

In reality, it is usually pent-up negative feelings about management behaviour that causes this.

It should not make a difference if employees are watching: leaders should strive to lead as well as they can.

And leaders should focus on being mentioned positively on glassdoor.com. Leaders should think about what actions they would want publicised.

Over the years, I have been taught that the "basics" matter the most, and in leadership it is no different.

If you excel at giving direction and feedback through clear communication, as well as developing your team and being fair, you will be a leader whom your employees will be proud to call boss.

Attending to the basics of leadership is sure to make you the outlier leader who gets positive notice.

Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, the author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Market Leadership Center

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