Management Styles vs Reality

In the literature you may find many different divisions of management styles. Some of them are more complex some of them are simpler. As always, the through is somewhere in the middle.

I believe that one of the most accurate division has been prepared by Hay Mcber, although I think that we may consider adding some additional styles based on personal experience. But let’s start with official list that already exist in Leadership world:

Directive style – first style that originate from distant past. We may consider that from the start of our civilization all Leaders were acting based on directive style. You can imagine working in Factory or some Farm in XV century, it’s hard to think that your boss will be leading such important undertaking using democratic-type style or by coaching employees. It just wouldn’t work. I’ve mentioned that this style is from distant past because we can assume that other styles started to develop after 50s and in state-owned companies this may exists to this day.

Using this style Leaders have direct control over employees telling them what to do. Such Leaders will not motivate employees and not discuss any decisions with them. Like in army there will be direct order which must be followed without discussion.

When it comes to these days such style may be useful during crisis in company when issues must be fixed very fast. To accomplish the task Leader will have to work with skilled employees which will know how to perform dynamic without additional questions.

Can you imagine that Leader using Directive style can effectively manage Team of people born after 90s?

Authoritative style – second style, and in my opinion the best for stable Teams with experienced specialists. In this case Leader is providing one of the most important things in management world – VISION. Based on this whole team is aware why certain actions are performed and what effect we want to achieve. Person using this style should have strong position within company’s structure and experience based on which credibility can be built. Mutual cooperation is based on trust and Leader’s awareness that team can work independently. From manager using this style you won’t hear very often how to do certain things “You know best – you have this knowledge!”.

I’m sure you have already figured out that this won’t work in new teams or in recently established companies. Employees with small experience will thing that you just don’t care about them while those more experienced will be grateful for your trust.

Affiliative style – third style build on beautiful dream that Leader can focus only on people while other things are less important. It would be great but still we need to deliver certain result as a Managers and based on the result we are evaluated. Leader that will use this style will try to avoid any conflicts in the team and try to make sure that everyone is happy. All issues or difficult cases will be managed by Leader and based on this person in charge will not be able to fully focus on job management and quality. How this will end? I fell that with an overtime, but to be on the same page – this overtime will not be made by Team.

It would be wise to use this management style together with other, based on the situation that we have in the team. For sure such style will be helpful during crisis or when people are leaving company, but you need to use it carefully. Someone once told that “People are your greatest asset” but at the same time we need to remember that our goal is to report good result at the end of the month.

Participative style – while in previous style Leader was focused on good relationship with the team here we go a little bit further. We’re giving Team ability to decide. Here we’ll be able to built good atmosphere and positive environment for cooperation between employees we need to ask one important question – what if the things will go wrong? Who will be responsible for that and how we’ll get out of the crisis?

It will be extremely hard to do this using this style therefore we need to think in which environment such style will work. Three words: IDEAS, STABILITY & EXPERIENCE. Based on this we may consider that companies in IT or Advertising market would be a good place for using such style. Same as in previous style for corporations on Financial market, I’d recommend using this together with other styles and for carefully selected tasks.

Pacesetting style – for the team of Experts and highly motivated employees this style may be interesting. Manager is leading by example showing very often how things should be done and then expecting that certain tasks will be delivered on the same (high) level as it was done by Manager. To finish with a good effect in a long-distance Leader need to feel how Team reacts on such style. It is possible that at some point based on too high standards and pressure our colleagues will start to look for a new challenge somewhere else, where their invention will be more appreciated. This problem may appear in case of young Leaders that were promoted from the position of Specialist.

Coaching style – last style from the list of Hay Mcber but probably most dangerous one these days. Why?

Because coaching is so popular these days that sometimes you may find more coaches than employees in the Company. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have a clue what coaching is and that it doesn’t take one book read to become a coach. The reason why I’m saying that it’s dangerous is that people believe “coaches” and very often try to do (in good faith) what they recommend. My advice would be to confirm experience of mentioned coach, education and ask for the overall coaching background.

In case you have met real coach, this person will be focused on building positive environment as a background for building strong relationships with team members. Leader will give them feeling that they can grow based on coaching methods and that those advices change not only their professional career but sometimes even approach to personal life. Those experienced coaches will be focused on employee’s development and usually they will use mentoring methods to build their credibility.

As for the additional styles that I’ve mentioned at the beginning. During last couple years I was able to observe such enigmatic examples:

  • Silent Observer
  • Fighting Parent
  • Missing Workaholic

Maybe you’ll be able to figure out what are the general features of those three styles. I’ll tell a bit more about this in one of next posts.

Is there a management Bible?

For those of you who start a fantastic journey in the Team Management world I have a good news – There is a Bible or maybe let’s call it a leadership guide. In my humble opinion this book is a great collection of knowledge and advice helpful for a fresh Leader during first months in the new role.

“Managing People. A Practical Guide for Line Managers” written by Michael Armstrong was the first book that one of my Professors recommended to me during my postgraduate studies. After a couple years since I bought it I must admit that it’s really helpful to come back to this book on regular basis, especially when some unusual situation happens.

What are the information that you may find helpful?

  • First of all the process of motivating employees. I think that we need to be aware of how important this part of of our job is. How positive motivation can help us in building strong and stable team and mostly how this affects people engagement and morale.
  • Second thing worth reading is recruitment process and how interview should look like. Another good example of how short conversation can influence your future results. This part will explain how important it is to be well prepared Recruiter and how the meeting should be lead. Believe me that for most of the Leaders this part should be regularly refreshed. Even from my friends I hear lots of stories about how not prepared recruiter discouraged them from choosing the company.
  • Last part that I really enjoyed was a chapter about manager’s responsibility for people development. I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post but this is the top priority on the list of things that you need to take care of. People will expect that you’ll support them in their growth and make everything that’s possible to open right doors for them. In this part author is also showing us how to manage training programs and how to analyse the results.
  • Other than that we can find information about delegating tasks, results management and one of the most difficult part – salaries management.

There are many books on the market that can help you on the first stage of you leadership career, this one was a huge help for me, therefore I thought that it would be good to share it. If you know any other titles that can be recommended feel free to use comment section.

Forced Leaders- Is it a sign of the times?

Last time I’ve mentioned about interesting situation of promoting people who are personally not convinced to became a Leaders. It may sound a bit odd but this situation seems to be getting more common this days and the impact that it may have on companies can be significant.

First of all, how this is even possible? Answer is very simple, market needs generate the situation where gaps have to be filled as quick as possible. One way or another. In this case companies in development phase look for Leaders to run their teams and secure quality of delivered processes. First and most natural move will be to find experienced Leaders inside own playground. If this won’t happen we need to extend our researches and look on the market. But what happens when your operating in city like Warsaw, where biggest companies are opening their offices practically every month? What happens if you don’t have enough Leaders inside and outside of your company?

Usually companies have three available options:

  1. Office can be moved to another country or city. In this case company need to make a decision if they will pay for that process, which is quite risky by the way, because we can’t be sure if the quality of delivered services will remain on the same level after mentioned change.
  2. Company will offer better salaries than competition to encourage potential employees to choose them. Again we’re talking about additional costs but in this case quality of work wont suffer. To be honest it can even increase if we’ll make a good decisions during recruitment process.
  3. Complement existing shortages by looking for potential talents in own company. In my opinion most reasonable approach but unfortunately at some point we can face a situation where we wont be able to find promising talents. Usually those people will be gems in the Team and as we all know ‘gems’ are quit difficult to find.

What then? What happens in case where company don’t want to go in the direction described in points 1 & 2 and point 3 at some point is impossible to implement because we used all available talents. Yes, that’s the point when bad decisions take place. Directors and Managers try to convince people who are not ready (or will never be) to became Leaders. In those cases most of the potential Leaders will accept the offer because change results in higher salary, promotion, prestige. It’s nice to say to your family and friends ‘Guys, I’ve been promoted to a Leader’s role. I’ll manage my own Team now’. Every mother will be proud hearing that her son or daughter did that.

But at the same time when such decision is made and new Leader take over the Team it’s expected that features such as decisiveness, organizational skills, communication skills, exceptional moral values and especially a vision will come to a scene.

Person without all of mentioned features will make mistakes, sometimes without bad intentions and sometimes without having a clue why something happened. It wont be so important but in this case Leader is responsible for employees. Every mistake may have an impact on their career or even family life. That’s why it’s so crucial to promote people that feels it, people that need only some small experience to wake up their leadership skills.

Do you observe same trends in your city? I’m really interested if such issues appear in other countries around the world.

In the next post I’ll try to shed some light on the best time for make a decision about being a Leader and the effects related to that.

Greetings and some previews.

Dear Readers,
Considering how fast the Word around us is changing and the impact that those changes have on our lives and professional careers I decided to create a place where we’ll be able to discuss and dispute about most interesting topics connected with our professional life. Mostly because on daily basis I’m responsible for managing a large Team, I’d like us to focus on topics related with Leadership. Of course I don’t want to provide you only with my opinions, many of them will gave some value add although I thought that my posts will be also based on the literature and work of biggest Leaders. Those that influenced this area and mentors that were able to transform their ideas into great profits.

Considering how fast the Word around us is changing and the impact that those changes have on our lives and professional careers I decided to create a place where we’ll be able to discuss and dispute about most interesting topics connected with our professional life. Mostly because on daily basis I’m responsible for managing a large Team, I’d like us to focus on topics related with Leadership. Of course I don’t want to provide you only with my opinions, many of them will gave some value add although I thought that my posts will be also based on the literature and work of biggest Leaders. Those that influenced this area and mentors that were able to transform their ideas into great profits.

Having in mind one of the latest discussions that I had with my good friends I remember that we touched the topic of promoting people in corporate structures who are not personally convinced to became a Leaders. The market on which I have a pleasure to work (Warsaw market) created quite interesting situation in which there are not enough experienced Leaders available. To fill this gaps companies are forced to look for the candidates in their own structures. Sometimes even promoting people that are not sure that they want to become Leaders. This topic seems to be interesting therefore I’d like to shade more light on this in the next article.

Feel free to put some comments or questions.
See you soon!

Piotr Kosiński