Managers, supervisors and team leads (people leaders) have the biggest impact on Employee Engagement both positively and negatively. It has been said that people leave their boss and not their job. While this isn’t always the case, it does hold true in many situations. Understanding your leadership style will give you insight in to how to be more effective in motivating your team, keeping your high performers and getting results.
The two dominate styles in today’s production environment are Authoritarian and Participatory. Most people use a blend of both styles; however, you usually have a preferred or dominate style. One style is not better than the other and both have value. Successful leaders know when to apply each style for maximum results.
Authoritarian leaders prefer to tell and not ask. They direct work and make decisions with little input from other team members. On the extreme end of the scale they are less tolerant of mistakes, tend to micromanage and give limited praise and recognition. This is the style that dominated the workforce in the past and is still present today. Authoritarian leadership may be useful in situations that have a high level of danger, where there is little room for error, under tight time constraints or with a team who is under skilled or displays immature behaviors.
Participative leaders invite opinions, suggestions and feedback from others. They advocate for group solutions and view failures as learning opportunities. They delegate tasks and put people in positions where they will excel with limited supervision. They give praise and recognition freely. Drawbacks of this style are that it can be time consuming and it requires a high level of constant communication. Participatory leadership is most effective when team members know their jobs. This style allows leaders to tap into unique strengths, generate more ideas, creativity and innovation as well as helps to develop future leaders.
How can you use this information to be a better leader? First understand what is your style preference and what are your triggers to activating a particular style. Second, use a conscious leadership approach to evaluate which style will be most effective given the situation.