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Is Management Style Crucial to Leadership?

How does management style affect someone’s ability to lead? We’re wondering if we should promote people with certain styles of leadership (autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire).

 —Always in Style, office coordinator, government, Washington, D.C.

January 7, 2014
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Related Topics: Performance Management, Motivating Employees, Management Skills and Development, Strategic Planning, Organizational Development, Dear Workforce
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Dear Always in Style:

You may have heard of Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard and their popular Situational Leadership Model. The key takeaway from their leadership model and a simple answer to your question is that there is no single “best” style of management. Effective management is task-relevant. Based on research by TTI Success Insights, a global talent-assessment firm, effective leadership has five distinct qualities which are considered to be key enablers of situational leadership.

Effective management is the capacity to organize others in such a way that it inspires trust and motivates people toward a common goal. The act of leadershipis achieving extraordinary business results through people. The Hersey-Blanchard model relies on two concepts: leadership style and individual or group maturity level. They look at four leadership styles:  telling, selling, participating and delegating. For maturity, they consider four levels: unable and insecure, incapable but willing, capable but unwilling and very capable and confident.

Now for the magic five key qualities of leaders. Data suggests that leaders who develop each of these competencies into clear strengths will be successful:

  1. Influencing others— Convincing others to change the way they think, believe or behave.
  2. Personal accountability— A measure of the capacity to be answerable for personal actions.
  3. Self-management— Demonstrating self-control and ability manage time and priorities.
  4. Goal achievement— The ability to identify and prioritize activities that lead to a goal.
  5. Interpersonal skills— Effectively communicating, building rapport and relating well to all kinds of people.

There is only one missing link to delivering exceptional leadership qualities: a conversation strategy. Several models exist, including the Coaching Conversation Model by Dr. Jeannine Sandstrom and Dr. Lee Smith of CoachWorks, the GROW model developed in the United Kingdom, and the FUEL Coaching Framework by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett.

By focusing on the five key leader qualities, employing a solid leader conversation strategy, and with an understanding of the four maturity levels, your leaders will choose the appropriate leadership style for the situation. I think you’ll find the attempt to identify a certain [behavioral] leadership style for the organization such as autocratic, democratic or laissez-faire will miss the mark. Research has shown that highly successful leaders are found throughout the full range of behavioral style.

Identifying, promoting from within or acquiring management talent that supports one style will eliminate many very qualified potential leaders who have a different behavioral style but are exceptional leaders.

SOURCE: Carl Nielson, The Nielson Group, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 15, 2013

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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