The Power of Good Leadership

Author: Marco C. Janssen, UTInnovation, the Netherlands

Many books and articles have been written about the influence of leadership on the results of an organization. As I am approaching my 30th year as a working professional I think I have seen most of the different leadership styles in action.
What I have learned over the years is that a good leader is a mentor that provides a solid framework as the basis for the team to operate on and that stimulates growth and self-deployment of the team members. There are so many examples of how good leadership translates into success that one would think that by now every leader understood that managing a team based on each team members’ strengths instead of dictating what each team member must do every minute of the day, is the way to go.

Surprisingly, this however is not the case, and in my daily experience I still see many leaders acting as dictators controlling everything team members do. This form of micromanagement may seem effective in the short run, but in the long term it in many cases has a devastating effect on a team. The possibility for team members to deploy their skills, to learn from their mistakes, to plan their work, to be accountable for their results, to get credit for their achievements and to be recognized by their peers is crucial for the pleasure with which people do their job.
Study after study show that job satisfaction is much more important than remuneration and that recognition and growth are key drivers for people to enjoy their work and for them to make that extra step on behalf of their colleagues and their company. Yet there are still bosses out there that believe that they need to control their teams with force. My personal experience has been that if you allow people to be responsible for their work, they will be. If you act like their guide and mentor, you will make them grow and recognize the importance of supporting each other to achieve team goals. In short it increases work pleasure and … improves results.

One of the complex matters in our modern society is the introduction of flexible working times. It has become normal that people can determine their own work schedule. If this goes hand in hand with an approach in which people are held accountable for their results this can be an excellent way to promote job satisfaction.
However, the flip side is that for some bosses the idea of flexible working times translates into expecting team members to be available when required, which for them means that the team is expected to be available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

I have seen how this results in people working up to 20-hour work days for weeks in a row without time to properly sleep and relax. All of this under the excuse that deadlines need to be met, often accompanied by statements that this is what the business expects.
I think that this situation is created under the pressure of increasing a team’s output (profitability) as it impacts the boss’ bonus. At the same time, I see that many bosses assume that people will be able to cope with this enormous pressure somehow as they believe that the team members feel that their jobs are important to them.

Given human flexibility and stamina, especially when we are young, this approach may appear to be successful for a short while, but in the long run it will cause people to burn out, as no one can sustain working under pressure for so long without proper possibilities to recuperate and recharge the physical and mental “battery.”

With increased flexibility in working hours comes the responsibility for the leadership to properly mentor their teams and be protective of the team members. To ensure that each team member is able to maintain a healthy balance between work and private time and that their mental and physical health is not jeopardized in the name of short-term financial objectives.
A healthy workforce is a powerful tool for achieving a company’s goals. Allowing people to deploy their skills in a positive environment, stimulates personal growth and team bonding, both of which are essential for people to be happy with their effort.



Marco C. Janssen is the CEO of UTInnovation LLC and the Director of the Smart Grid PMO at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. He received his BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic in Arnhem, Netherlands and has worked for over 27 years in the field of Smart Grid, Protection, Control, Monitoring, Advanced Metering Infrastructures, Distribution and Substation Automation. He was a member of IEC TC57 WG 10, 17, 18, 19, the IEEE PES PSRC and CIGRE B5 and D2 WGs. He was the convenor of D2.35 and editor of the Quality Assurance Program for the Testing Subcommittee of the UCA International Users Group. He holds one patent, has authored more than 58 papers, is co-author of four Cigre Technical Brochures and two books on Smart Grids and Electrical Power Substations Engineering and is the author of the “I Think” column in the PAC World magazine.

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