12 September 2020
While the economy is still going through unpredictable shifts, it is vital that employers are developing best practices when it comes to leading and managing their staff.
However, there is a lot of grey area and misunderstanding when it comes to leading a team, especially right now. Many managers are finding themselves traversing a new landscape whether it is because their teams are working remotely, they are operating with new practices, or expanding their assets digitally.
While there are many leadership styles out there, one cannot be considered “better” or “worse” than the other. However, in order to effectively motivate and manage your team, discerning the way you lead now is crucial in growing as a business, as there might be some things you do that you don’t realize which could be hindering your staff.
Think about when you were a kid. Whether you played sports, were a member of the band, or a part of a club, you had a mentor. What made them either a really good, or adversely, a poor leader?
We are going to dive into what the main management styles are and how they can be greatly effective, as well as where people can create tension amongst themselves and their staff.
The 8 Types of Managers
1. Laissez Faire
In French this means “let it be” or “leave it alone”. A completely hands off approach to leadership.
Ronald Reagan, a surprisingly Laissez Faire leader, describes this as “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”
The psychology behind a Laissez Faire management style requires not only a leader having complete confidence in their staff but the belief that they have hired individuals who are self motivated.
A Laissez Faire leader is one who will not be around to provide direct instruction or a concrete agenda for their employees. Instead, They will provide guidance if and when someone needs it. This style of management is often described as “the complete opposite of micromanaging”.
This can work very well in environments such as a start ups, design agencies, and advertising firms. As both the staff and management are more likely self-motivated, knowledgeable, and good at delegation. However, this management style seems to break down when employees have no clear direction or vision and can end up feeling unmotivated.
An autocratic manager is one that believes in a centralized or top-down approach. Much like autocratic forms of government, one who decides to employ this style of management creates a barrier between staff and themselves.
This style of management, while effective in certain situations, as it requires leaders to be black and white and motivate employees through rewards and consequences.
Opposite to Laissez Faire, autocratic leaders manage using a great deal of direction and control. Their employees know exactly what to expect and what they need to do. However, this style of leadership should not be condemned. Bill Gates is a great example of a positive autocratic leader. Microsoft employees know what they need to do to best perform.
But taken to the extreme autocratic leadership is micromanaging. When you impose too much control over your team you are not allowing them the ability to be self motivated, which can cause quick and constant employee turnover.
Giving your team direction is good, but if you find yourself leading by imposing extensive control to the point where your staff has no ability to collaborate, innovate, or group think. This can cause great financial loss in a multitude of different ways not limited to having to rehire employees constantly or not allowing expansion of the business itself.
Visionary Managers are ones who lead by clearly communicating the purpose and mission of both the company and the day to day. They lead their team by outlining an overarching strategy and allows employees the freedom to complete the different goals.
This style of leadership, while allowing a great deal of autonomy to staff, is different from Laissez Faire. Visionary leaders give constant feedback, they are there to make sure that that vision they have given their team is being carried out.
It is proven that when people are given tasks they are passionate about and followed with the freedom to carry those tasks out, they are more satisfied. This contrasts the autocratic leadership style through that opposite approach.
Democratic, contrary to autocratic, is defined by majority rules. Democratic leaders not only take their teams opinions into account but they encourage employees to strategize and collaborate, using their input to shape the company.
Democratic management requires that both employees and team leaders have constant and honest communication. It gives staff the freedom to execute and contribute but there is potential for breakdown if people are on different pages with different goals.
This management style is not as efficient as more top-down strategies. When decisions pass through the entire body of the business with the ability to debate, things will take longer to get done.
Think about when bills are going through the senate. Because laws not only have to pass through the 3 branches of American government, but they are debated, veto-ed, re-debated; you hear complaints about things never getting done and it is because of this process. However, speed is sacrificed for quality.
A democratic manager is constantly self-evaluating and making sure that their team and themselves are operating in a cohesive manner. Imagine if laws weren’t debated, those checks and balances weren’t in place. It could allow for forms of unhealthy autocratic leadership.
Transactional managers operate with the sole mindset of “if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours”. They run their companies like one may train a dog. Leveraging rewards like bonuses and stock options to ensure that their commands will be carried out.
There is not only a large power dynamic in play, but this can lead to a major lack of motivation in the long run. When employees are motivated by monetary rewards, they are more likely to lose passion and the motivation for their work as a whole. We tend to stick with jobs because we believe in either the work we are doing, the company as a whole, and the internal reward doing the work is giving us.
When you are less passionate about what you do, odds are you don’t work as well. Passion is defined as “intrinsic” motivation whereas transactional rewards can be defined as “extrinsic”. When you are intrinsically motivated you are inspired to complete a task because of the personal reward you will feel; however, when you are extrinsically motivated, you are completing a task because you are either afraid of the consequences of not doing so or because there is a tangible reward.
Studies have found that people are most effective when they are intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically. While rewarding your employees is important, and you should employ some transnational strategies when you have noticed someone is going above and beyond, it is important that those strategies aren’t being overused.
Much like autocratic management, persuasive leadership is defined by strong centralized control. However, being a persuasive manager means that you are taking the time to listen to your employees, versus having the “do this or else” mentality that is often found with autocratic leaders.
Unlike democratic, persuasive management will discuss decisions only with those on the highest levels of the company, then go to their staff with the decision and an explanation of why it was made.
Also making it distinct from autocratic and transactional leaderships, while they hold the first and final say of every decision, persuasive managers do not operate on a rewards and punishments basis. Employees are encouraged to complete tasks through persuasive techniques.
Transformational managers can be summed up as innovators. They are usually found in high paced, ever-evolving industries like tech or marketing. Their soul goal is to inspire their employees, pushing them past their comfort zone in order to have them realize their full potential.
Being a transformational leader means you are an expert at motivation. Going back to the intrinsically motivated philosophy, a transformational leader’s purpose is to spark passion and growth for their team and, in effect, for the company.
However, when people are constantly being challenged, especially when it comes to having to be innovative and creative, they can spread themselves too thin.
On the flip side, it is shown that businesses with transformational management have happier employees. A couple examples of famous transformational leaders are Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Reed Hastings of Netflix. The nature of their market as well as what the respective companies have grown to become requires innovation from the very top all the way down.
Companies that have participative management are similar to democractic. Managers who implement this style of leadership encourage participation from all employees and genuinely seek their opinions. This is opposite to persuasive leaders, as participative managers ask for their staff’s input before making any decisions pertaining to a project.
The authority is spread throughout the organization. This can be extremely effective in intrinsically motivating employees, as it can result in a blend of elements coming from both the transformative and democractic approaches.
However, in order to run a successful business with participative management, employees have to have similar skills, vision, and ability to make sure there is no strategic drift.
Leadership Skills To Strive For
The Biggest Mentoring Mistakes (What NOT To Do)
1.Micromanaging And Power Dynamics
As Michael Scott once said, “I am going to have to fix you, manage you two on a more personal scale, a more micro form of management.” Although Michael’s over-the-top Laissez Faire style of management was the backbone to “The Office” until his departure. Putting aside the fact this quote was by a sitcom character, it describes why micromanaging is one of the worst things you can do as a leader.
Your greatest responsibility as the head of a team is to motivate them. An inspired staff that understands the vision of the company with the trust and freedom to grow in the roles for which they were hired is critical in successful business.
The biggest disservice you can do as a leader is manage someone’s every action to the point where they have no drive to go to work. You are also doing yourself and the company a disservice because these micromanaging strategies may be stalling the expansion of the business. The greatest asset to a company is the ability to adapt with the times. When leaders micromanage they are restricting this asset.
Micromanaging a team plays into the power dynamics. When you micromanage you are in theory telling your staff that they are not only incapable of doing their job, but you have the authority to control every move.
The “It’s my way or the highway” mentality. Don’t let a domineering leadership strategy ruin your business. In fact, “70% of people who reported being micromanaged had considered quitting their job because of it. Over 30% of respondents actually did.” According to a study by Trinity Solutions.
2. Uncertainty With No Clarity
Did you know that only half of all workplace conversations can be described as “great”?
This goes hand in hand with having clear communication skills. When you aren’t able to effectively communicate with your team you hinder the growth of your business. Your team needs to know, not only what is expected of them, but what the overarching vision and goals are for the company.
When there is a breakdown or complete lack of communication from the top down, it may not only stall a project, but cause a complete overhaul of it due to the fact that there was no set outline for completion in the first place.
Some examples of bad communication that you may not know you are even doing are:
Never being around when staff needs you. “The Invisible Leader”, nothing gets done because you aren’t there to communicate any direction.
Being condescending. Even though you may not realize it, you could be saying things that come off as condescending to your team. Never assume employees don’t know how to do tasks even if you have never seen them complete that task before. Trust that they will come to you for guidance if needed and be a resource.
Phrasing questions as obligations. If you have staff that genuinely care about the business and their job, it isn’t wise to frame tasks and questions as obligations with an allusion to punishment if they aren’t completed. Be upfront when you expect or need something from your team, they will appreciate it and it will help them grow in the long run.
3. No Goal Setting
Goal setting is the greatest thing you can do to help your business. This goes hand in hand with communication. As a leader, when you can communicate clear goals to your team you are giving them the greatest advantage in striving to those goals and furthering the business on every level.
When leaders do not communicate or set goals at all, there can be no growth. Would you take that calculus course if math wasn’t a requirement? Would you have studied if there were no such things as grades? Unless you were truly passionate and self-motivated, odds are probably not. While employees can still be intrinsically motivated to reach goals, if you haven’t set any for them your expectations and their execution may not line up.