Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leadership & Full Buckets

As assignment from my graduate class on organizational leadership:

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket states that we are at our best when our buckets are full. However, some would argue that leaders are not responsible for ensuring full buckets. Followers are supposed to do what the job requires, regardless of how they feel about it.

See here for a short description of bucket and dipper theory.

Leaders should be concerned about their followers emotions. Happy, strong and optimistic followers are more productive and create a more positive work environment. However, leaders should not hold themselves responsible for ensuring that all their followers buckets are full. A follower’s bucket is best filled from a variety of sources including other followers, family and friends. There is no guarantee the follower desires to have their bucket filled. Having assumed the responsibility for full buckets, the leader may resort to reward power and unknowingly promote an entitlement mentality. As increasing amounts of time are devoted to making sure everyone is “happy”, other aspects of leadership and management may be neglected. Ironically, when the leader attempts to ensure every followers bucket is full, the leader will often find theirs empty. A crisis of leadership may develop when leaders assume too much responsibility for full buckets.

The theory of the bucket and the dipper asserts that when we fill another’s bucket, we also fill our own. Therein lies the power of the organization. What is impossible for the one leader to accomplish may be accomplished by the many followers filling each other’s buckets. The leader has a responsibility to create an environment where great value is placed on the transfer of positive emotions. In this way leaders work through the actions of followers, and the leaders impact is magnified by the size of the organization. An organization that recognizes and values positive emotions will naturally fill the buckets of all who are associated with it, including the leader. Ultimately, followers bear responsibility for ensuring buckets are full across the organization.

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