The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management

LEADERHIP STYLESAdapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray,published by Harper Business.Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and theorganization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on likeso many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particulardemands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and theparticular challenges facing the organization.In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of“Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The mosteffective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needsof the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.Visionary. This style is most appropriate when an organization needs a new direction.Its goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. “Visionary leadersarticulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free toinnovate, experiment, take calculated risks,” write Mr. Goleman and his coauthors.Coaching. This one-on-one style focuses on developing individuals, showing themhow to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals ofthe organization. Coaching works best, Mr. Goleman writes, “with employees whoshow initiative and want more professional development.” But it can backfire if it’sperceived as “micromanaging” an employee, and undermines his or her selfconfidence.Affiliated. This style emphasizes the importance of team work, and creates harmonyin a group by connecting people to each other. Mr. Goleman argues this approach isparticularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale,improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.” But he warnsagainst using it alone, since its emphasis on group praise can allow poor performanceto go uncorrected. “Employees may perceive,” he writes, “that mediocrity istolerated.”Democratic. This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a groupcommitment to the resulting goals. It works best when the direction the organizationshould take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group.Mr. Goleman warns that this consensus-building approach can be disastrous in timesof crisis, when urgent events demand quick decisions.Pacesetting. In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is“obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.” ButMr. Goleman warns this style should be used sparingly, because it can undercutmorale and make people feel as if they are failing. “Our data shows that, more oftenthan not, pacesetting poisons the climate,” he writes.Commanding. This is classic model of “military” style leadership – probably themost often used, but the least often effective. Because it rarely involves praise andfrequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Mr. Golemanargues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed. Even themodern military has come to recognize its limited usefulness.TipsAll leadership styles can become part of the leader’s repertoire.Leadership styles should be adapted to the demands of the situation, therequirements of the people involved and the challenges facing the organization.6 management styles and when best to use them – The Leaders Tool Kit (from Leaders inHeels)Think back on your career and the managers you have had. I am sure that you have hadgood managers and others who were maybe not so great. When I ask people to list whatmade the good managers “good”, most of the examples they give me are to do withbehaviour, or style.One of the interesting things about style is that managers with the most flexibility in styleget the best outcomes from their people. Leadership style is not about good/bad,right/wrong: leadership style depends on the task, people and situation to be managed.6 Management StylesAccording to Hay-McBer there are six key leadership or management styles.DIRECTIVEThe DIRECTIVE (Coercive) style has the primary objective of immediate compliancefrom employees:The “do it the way I tell you” managerClosely controls employeesMotivates by threats and disciplineEffective when: There is a crisisWhen deviations are riskyNot effective when:Employees are underdeveloped – little learning happens with this styleEmployees are highly skilled – they become frustrated and resentful at themicromanaging.AUTHORITATIVEThe AUTHORITATIVE (Visionary) style has the primary objective of providing longterm direction and vision for employees:The “firm but fair” managerGives employees clear directionMotivates by persuasion and feedback on task performanceEffective when:Clear directions and standards neededThe leader is credibleIneffective when:Employees are underdeveloped – they need guidance on what to doThe leader is not credible – people won’t follow your vision if they don’t believe in itAFFILIATIVEThe AFFILIATIVE style has the primary objective of creating harmony amongemployees and between manager and employees:The “people first, task second” managerAvoids conflict and emphasizes good personal relationships among employeesMotivates by trying to keep people happyEffective when:Used with other styles Tasks routine, performance adequateCounselling, helpingManaging conflictLeast effective when:Performance is inadequate – affiliation does not emphasize performanceThere are crisis situations needing directionPARTICIPATIVEThe PARTICIPATIVE (Democratic) style has the primary objective of buildingcommitment and consensus among employees:The “everyone has input” managerEncourages employee input in decision makingMotivates by rewarding team effortEffective when:Employees working togetherStaff have experience and credibilitySteady working environmentLeast effective when:Employees must be coordinatedThere is a crisis – no time for meetingsThere is a lack of competency – close supervision requiredPACESETTINGThe PACESETTING style has the primary objective of accomplishing tasks to a highstandard of excellence:The “do it myself” managerPerforms many tasks personally and expects employees to follow his/her example Motivates by setting high standards and expects self-direction from employeesEffective when:People are highly motivated, competentLittle direction/coordination requiredWhen managing expertsLeast effective when:When workload requires assistance from othersWhen development, coaching & coordination requiredCOACHINGThe COACHING style has the primary objective of long-term professional developmentof employees:The “developmental” managerHelps and encourages employees to develop their strengths and improve theirperformanceMotivates by providing opportunities for professional developmentEffective when:Skill needs to be developedEmployees are motivated and wanting developmentIneffective when:The leader lacks expertiseWhen performance discrepancy is too great – coaching managers may persist ratherthan exit a poor performerIn a crisisWhen I run a program on the six styles, I like to use an activity to demonstrate the stylesin action. The group is divided into 6 teams and a volunteer leader comes in to lead eachteam using just one of the styles. I set them a task that takes 30-40 minutes and then wedebrief how it felt and what outcomes were achieved. The task is easy, so people areskilled. This is what happens:The DIRECTIVE leader orders the team around, sets high standards and disciplines thosewho don’t meet the standard. I brief the leader beforehand to change his / her mindseveral times during the activity and also to take a phone call and leave the room. Whenthe leader is out of the room, the team usually stops work – concerned about theconsequences of continuing without the micromanagement. After the activity the teamreports that they are frustrated, angry and disengaged. It is interesting how quickly theteam loses enthusiasm and initiative under the directive leader. The leader reports that thestyle is “high maintenance – I felt like I had to be everywhere, watching everyone, it wasexhausting”!The AUTHORITATIVE (Visionary) leader sets the vision for the team, clearly andcompellingly, then steps back and allows the team to work. The leader steps in from timeto time to reiterate the vision if required, but that is all he / she does. The leader reportsthat the style was “easy – I didn’t have to do much and I could see how the style wouldfree me up to operate strategically”. The team report enjoying the activity, and feelenormously proud of the work they have done, often getting out their smart phones totake pictures posing with their creation.The AFFILIATIVE leader takes time helping the team to bond. They often sit down for acup of tea and a round table sharing of stories. Often the activity is not even commencedas the team gets caught up in getting to know each other. More task focused teammembers often look around and get anxious when they can see other teams working.Sometimes one of those people will leap in and take control, effectively “sacking” theleader. The team reports that they enjoyed the sharing and relaxed atmosphere, but thatthey started to wonder when they would start work. The leader often reports that it was“challenging keeping the focus on team bonding – they started to get sick of me after awhile”The PARTICIPATIVE (Democratic) leader starts by asking all the team members whatthey would like to do, then voting on the options. They start in the car park, and I have onoccasion seen the team vote to get a coffee and disappear. They are then startled to findwhen they return that there was an activity to do that they missed! Even when the teamvotes to come inside and do the activity the progress is slow as everything has to beagreed before action happens. Team members report that they enjoyed being consultedand having a voice in the decision making, but got anxious when they could see lack ofprogress compared with other teams. The leader reports that “it was easy – I didn’t haveto make any decisions”.The PACESETTING leader sets a cracking pace from the beginning. The team operateswith high energy, engagement and motivation. The leader sets members tasks, but thentakes the task off them if they are “not performing” and gives it to someone else. Despitethis, the team members remain engaged, seeing this as a consequence of the highstandards set by the leader. At the end of the task the team reports that they enjoyed theexperience, are proud of what they achieved, but are exhausted. The leader is oftenexhausted too, saying “it was fantastic, but really challenging to maintain the pace andfocus. I am glad we only had to do it for 40 minutes”!The COACHING leader focusses on the learning experience. When a team memberproves to be particularly good at an aspect of the task, the leader has them demonstrateand teach the others. The team gets absorbed in the learning and people are oftensurprised to hear that the time is up. They are engaged with and proud of theirachievements, even though they often don’t fully complete the task. The leader oftenreports that they “really enjoyed working with the team and I’d love to have had moretime so we could finish because we were doing a great job”.It is a fascinating exercise that demonstrates clearly that there is no best style. The mostappropriate style will depend on the people (their experience, values, motives) and thesituation (stable/changing, new/seasonal team, short/long term focus). The key to beingan effective leader is to have a broad repertoire of styles and to use them appropriately.Rosalind CardinalRosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a Hobart basedconsultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals,teams and organisations.Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in theHuman Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years.Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledgeand experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture,team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employeeengagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

 

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