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In business school we were taught the origins of leadership, you know Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X was the idea that employees had to be motivated, as they were inherently lazy. This style can be discouraging to employees and limits their full potential. On the other hand, Theory Y professes that if management provides opportunity, employees are inherently self-motivated. They come to work and are inspired to do a good job. As a student of organizational management, I was taught that the best way to lead was to evolve your management style from one of these two theories.

However, my own experiences have lead me to believe that the most effective approach is what I call Theory “B”. Theory “B” is really not a Theory at all; it is just an approach on how to treat people. What it really means is the best way to manage or build relationships, is to “B” flexible, to “B” one way with a person based upon their personality and “B” flexible enough to “B” different with someone else because they have different personalities and needs. That is really Theory “B”.

Leadership does not come wrapped in a box because you are dealing with individuals, therefore situations are always fluid. It is important to get your team members to buy in and believe for shared success. It is even more important now as the Millennial generation begins to outnumber Baby Boomers and desire to feel that they are a part of the process. Theory “B” requires leaders to think less about themselves, apply less top-down leadership, “B” more patient, listen more, and display the ability to anticipate the needs of their employees.

It also requires leaders to employ the philosophy that members are second. By that, I mean if leaders under Theory “B” address the individual needs of their employees’ and create a culture that everyone can get on board with, the essence of Theory “B” has been achieved. Ultimately, Theory “B” leads to the building of an organization employees will not want to leave. They will see it as their organization and become the culture.

Treat your people right and they will treat your members right.