According to Hogan’s research, followers want four things: integrity, confidence, decision-making and clarity. But just as important is what followers don’t want: irritability, moodiness, untrustworthiness, indecisiveness, needless micro-management and excessive authority. They perceive these things as incompetent, and pretty soon the leveling mechanism kicks in and there is a subtle rebellion. (Incidentally, I would be a terrible leader, according to Hogan’s personality test. Too irritable. “Volcanic,” he announced.)
With that in mind, let’s reconsider our local teams, and ask why the followers refused to follow.
Boudreau is an extremely likable man and expert coach; the Capitals followed him cheerfully until this season, and he was hired by Anaheim less than three days after getting fired. But after winning just two playoff rounds in four years, Boudreau decided he needed to get tougher, especially on star Alex Ovechkin. This from a guy who already had a nasal intensity, and who before his first-ever practice with the Capitals in 2007 decided to chastise Ovechkin solely for the purpose of making an impression. And who in 2010 was captured on tape giving an intermission diatribe that consisted of 17 obscenities in 90 seconds. Deafening profanity can be useful — until it’s numbingly repetitive. At a certain point it didn’t motivate anymore and became tiresome. “If people say, ‘He’s just manipulating us,’ at that point you’re done,” Hogan says.
Edsall’s act with the Terps was just sort of low and snarling and alienating. He treated the nine-win squad he inherited from the far more accomplished Ralph Friedgen as if it was in need of discipline and not up to his standards. But there’s a difference between rigor, which builds confidence, and petty puppeteering, which destroys enthusiasm. Fact is, Edsall’s never won anything bigger than a PapaJohns.com Bowl. Some of the Terps responded by nicknaming him the “warden” and by playing with stunning lassitude and apathy, losing 10 games.
Edsall has shown zero recognition he is the problem; instead he had the temerity to compare himself to the New England Patriots. Edsall might want to look at a study on airline crew performance that Hogan cites. It found that the number of flight errors significantly correlated to the personality of the captain. Crews led by captains perceived as agreeable, self-confident and emotionally reliable made the fewest errors. Crews with captains considered arrogant, hostile, passive-aggressive or dictatorial made the most errors.
Leaders lose their teams, Hogan says, for the simple reason that followers withdraw their consent to be led. The late Red Auerbach, the legendary coach and executive with the Boston Celtics, always said that you don’t motivate teams, you motivate players, one by one, by building relationships.
“The key to the relationship is trust, and if they don’t trust you, you’re done,” Hogan says.
A leader is worth nothing without voluntary commitment, because the followers are actually more in charge of the outcome. Every aspiring leader should ask, “Would people choose to follow me?” and understand who the boss really is.