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Leadership and the Interaction Patterns

A leader has influence on the interaction patterns of the team implicitly as well as explicitly. As always, when perception is at play, the implicit active factors are stronger and more relevant than the explicit. As with parents, leaders have very much more effect through that which they do than through that which they say.

Sanctioning and confirming constantly takes place through the team members observing their boss. The team learns from the role model, or from that which the leader expresses through body language, facial expression etc., from what he reacts to and resonates with and what he skims over and ignores. Many of these signals are unconscious and, thus, deprived of deliberate control and conscious attention by the leader (for this reason alone, leaders often require consultation). It very quickly becomes noticeable, if the boss announces that he would like contradiction and criticism, only to then be perceivably offended and react with withdrawal to such communication offers by the team. Every leader, therefore, has far-reaching influence on norms and values in the team, merely by being there.

Furthermore, the leader also influences the interaction pattern in the team beyond this, through explicit discipline and reward. Every person is accustomed to this from childhood (parents, school). Therefore, many people acquire orientation in the interaction with authority by means of adaptation(!) or rebellion. Rules of the desired and undesired generate obedience and resistance, according to the situation and the person. Sometimes, it is astonishing how many leaders unilaterally reckon with obedience when handing out instructions. Many also underestimate the destructiveness of anxiety-triggering signals. These lead to superficial adaptation and profound loss of motivation or a refusal to perform.