You might have noticed to this point in your career that how you manage your employees affects their performance. Every day I take a moment to consider the impacts that my own personal style has on the goals and initiatives of my team. While there are broad generalizations that can be applied to leadership, there are specific areas that you can focus on depending on the needs and personalities of your team. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to leadership style, but there are effective and ineffective styles.
At the highest level of your leadership approach, you’ll find that you’ll most likely be classified as democratic or autocratic by your employees. In an autocratic approach, you’ll find yourself making more unilateral company decisions, maintaining absolute authority. This may cause some rifts within your teams, as employees tend to feel as if their opinions and input don’t matter to the long-term or even short-term mission of the company. While this is a popular style in many businesses (such as telemarketing, sales, etc.), choosing a more democratic path to leadership will lead to much more effective employee participation and personal growth.
There are two distinct styles within an overall democratic leadership style that are important to your business. As a leader, you should be able to transition between the two, depending on the needs of your team and overall company. I find that when we need creative problem solving or training, it works to transition into more of a consultative leadership role. This helps support creative ideas within whiteboard environments, during training efforts for future leaders and when efficiency is needed for the everyday tasks in your organization. Leading with a consultative style leads to active participation.
To that point, when you have talent on your team when you have active participation and clear goals, you can shift to a more participative style. This style works best not only when you are looking for innovation from your team, but when you are looking to motivate your top-performers. This style not only promotes creative thought within your team, but it also allows for the development of future leaders, something that you should always be looking for. This style also inspires active participation within the team, leading to a more collaborative and positive environment.
There are times, however, when the democratic styles aren’t as effective, and you’ll need to transition to an authoritative style. This is a short-term leadership style and must be handled with care, as it can affect long-term performance and sensibilities of some employees. This style is effective with new employees or employees who need to be re-trained. This style returns all decisions to your desk and eliminates collaboration. A short-term solution in order to establish long-term goals. This style is also effective when you are solely responsible for decision and implementation.
No matter which style you are using in your organization, be sure to take note of how your employees respond. While an autocratic style is often effective in the very short-term, in the long-term, maintaining a democratic style will create a more effective and creative environment. The goal of both is to keep your employees on task, motivated and contributing to the overall growth of your organization.