The Right Leadership Style for Common Workplace Challenges
- Jun 14, 2018
Whether you’re working for a small business or a large one, there is no single method in managing employees. If you’re a manager or business owner, it’s best to know each employee you’re “in charge of." Knowing the communication style that fits them best will effectively set them up for success.
Leadership vs Management
You’ll notice how the term manager was mentioned above. While that is a reputable and real job position, striving to be more of a leader rather than manager is more beneficial to your workers. Plus, you'll be far more productive in the end with your business. According to an article by Vineet Nayar on Harvard Business Review, there are three distinctive factors that separate a leader from a manager.
First is counting value versus creating value. In short this means, keeping track of success by those under you versus contributing to it/getting work done. As a manager, counting value can do more harm than good, slowing down workers by micro-managing and adding pressure. Instead, act more as a leader by splitting tasks or responsibilities with your employees, adding to the success in a timely manner.
The next difference is the circle of influence versus the circle of power. If you’re a manager, you’re naturally creating circles of power. However, acting as more of a leader forms a comfortable circle of influence. Nayer says to count how many people outside of your “reporting hierarchy” approach you for input and advice. The more people you have, the more likely that you’re a leader.
Lastly, there is leading people versus managing work. Much like the first two, managing is counting and controlling a group to reach success. Leadership, on the other hand, is guiding and working with those under you directly to help them. Supporting and encouraging them is key, not pressuring and criticizing.
Leadership Styles and Management Styles
Speaking of influencing your staff, there are various ways to do so with leadership and management styles. Keep in mind that some are more effective than others (it all depends on the people in your company – we’ll go over the cons.) This article covers each management style and their techniques based on The Executive Connection.
Transformational leadership: This first one is when you use strong communication and knowledgeable conversation to inspire and stimulate those around you. This is a great leadership style that is strong across the board with many employees.
Charismatic leadership: Similar to the above as it does almost the same thing. The mere difference is the leader is more present and associated with success.
Servant leadership: Ideal for when you want to get all employees involved. It shares decision-making among all members and is aware of the staff needs.
Democratic leadership: It’s similar to servant leadership in that he/she in power will ask members for advice before making a final decision.
Autocratic leadership: The complete opposite of servant leadership. This is more of a management style as the hierarchy is in full effect. Leaders (managers) have “significant control of staff” and don’t really pay mind of employee suggestions.
Transactional leadership: True to its name, it’s like a transaction. This strategy asks for a single job to be done, rewarding good behavior and punishing the bad.
Laissez-faire leadership: The opposite to transactional leadership style. Translating to “let them do” in French, this style is made up of leaders ultimately backing off and letting the employees do what they think is best.
Bureaucratic leadership: This style commits to the process of rule following. A professional hierarchy is important and closely followed, leaving little room for development and creativity.
Situational leadership: Created in 1969 by management specialists Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, this is “a theory that the best leaders utilize a range of different styles depending on the environment.” It integrates and weaves many leadership styles together depending on the situation.
Hire for a Wide Range of Leadership Styles
Selecting a management style can be tricky, and guess what? It’s not required. As a manager, you’re not locked down to doing every job or managing every worker the same way. It’s actually better that you don’t. Equally as important is creating a staff that is creative, diverse and filled with a variety of skills and talents. The way to do that is to simply hire for a wide range of leadership styles.
Don’t focus on whether or not your current staff will perfectly get along with the prospective hire. Rather brainstorm and integrate leadership tactics that will creatively and naturally use this new personality and new talent to the companies benefit.
While it requires a lot of flexibility on everyone’s part, hiring a varied team will not only help in completing all angles of a project, but also strengthen you as a leader.
Pros and Cons of Leadership Styles For: Meeting Goals and Metrics
While reading through the various leadership and management styles, I’m sure you saw some negative aspects for each. In terms of meeting goals, deadlines and metrics, laissez-fair leadership style is probably not the best choice. Since it’s so laid-back and dependent on the employee’s decisions, focus can be lost along with a clear system. Servant and democratic styles are positive in some situations. Though, when trying to reach a tight deadline, these options take more time as they include the input of many people.
In this case, choosing a structured and focused style is best. Transformational and charismatic suits the objective of meeting goals and metrics because communication and creativity is sparked through conversation between a leader and others below them. Bureaucratic is also applicative as it follows a clean, clear structure that is designed to meet a goal or complete a task.
Pros and Cons of Leadership Styles For: Interpersonal Relationships at Work
If you’re looking to create a comfortable and friendly work environment that invites workers to express their creativity, Laissez-faire is the leadership style you should use. This doesn’t mean to throw rules and caution to the wind, sacrificing productivity and your business for the happiness of your coworkers. However, giving your team some leeway and a chance to freely produce content will create a more relaxed environment for all.
Using a harsh style such as autocratic where it’s solely the manager in control isn’t the most inviting. It limits your chance to create lasting and meaningful interpersonal work relationships. Who wants to go into work every day where your thoughts aren’t welcome?
Pros and Cons of Leadership Styles For: Disagreements, Resentment, and Office Drama
Is your office one where there is always the ongoing mystery of who broke the coveted electric stapler? Does Tom typically blame Sally when in reality he's just not feeling heard at work?
In striving to create a non-hostile, easy-going work environment, you first have to create a collaborative one. In doing so, the best practices include those that involve all employees, giving each person a say and personally hearing them out. As discussed, servant and democratic leadership styles do just that. Servant requires combined decision making while democratic asks for input before going ahead in a project. These both improve communication and involvement for each worker. Therefore, they create a comfortable work environment that has a strong communicative team. Each person gets to learn how one another works, limiting the amount of office drama.
On the other hand, this kind of united effort can create tension as there could be some strong disagreements. However, this is all in a case-by-case standpoint. It’s never known how large the disagreement will be, how each party will react, or how exactly it will end. Situational leadership allows you to combine each leadership style to best suit the issue. This is a kind of in-the-moment procedure that you will have to break down and solve based on the people involved.
Pros and Cons of Leadership Styles For: Employee Retention and Happiness
Employee’s personal happiness at their job is highly important. According to Catalyst.org, the voluntary turnover rate was 9.6 percent globally in 2016, with the average time people stay at their jobs dropping. The report says that factors for leaving a job include work-life balance and career development. Though, it's said that turnover rates could dwindle with the incorporation of workplace flexibility and inclusive leadership; "Inclusive leaders both value their employees’ unique diversity and also find a common ground to foster a sense of belongingness."
While this goes along with interpersonal relationships with coworkers, thriving in their daily tasks and overall professional progress is something that leadership styles maintained by a manager can impact. If you’re looking to help your employees succeed (remember, that should be your main focus as a manager!) it all circles back to getting to know them. Are they someone that thrives when they have strict rules (bureaucratic) or does the freedom of creativity (Laissez-faire) produce some of their greatest work? It’s situational, but a manager should have a hand in helping bring out the success and happiness of their employees by working one-on-one and creating an intellectually stimulating environment (transformational.) Remember, don’t count value but help create it.
Helping others reach their goals doesn't have to always be to detailed thought out. It can be as simple as providing your staff the tools they need to be efficient in their work, such as a high-volume three hole punch or a modular desk organizer.
Once you, as a manager, have the technique of influencing others and being more of a leader, you will see a better workplace environment for you and your employees. Setting your team up for success may not always be an easy task, but it's worth it for everyone involved and your company's growth.