What is the leadership style of a good manager?

What leadership style do you think makes you a better manager? I hear some people say it's the coach leadership style, others say it's the visionary or the democratic. In fact, you're all somewhat right, but you don't have the right answer! It is by using several leadership styles, alternately according to the context, that you become a better manager. I have often seen managers identify and confine themselves to a rather restrictive vision of themselves by fully assuming their predominant leadership style. They are not always aware that each situation, each person and each organizational context has very different needs and realities.

I have in mind the example of Anthony, who had to manage a change requiring the implementation of new processes within his team. He once told to me, "You know, I let my team go, I'm a democratic manager, people are capable on their own, I delegate a lot, that's the way I am". He had retained that his predominant leadership style was "democratic" and he was convinced that his approach was appropriate. He meant well and believed that this was the way to get his team fully mobilized.

However, his employees complained of a lack of clarity as to the direction to take, they felt left to their own devices and lacked support. Everyone had their own opinion on what needed to be done and no consensus emerged. This became problematic for the management of daily operations and generated conflict within the team. In addition, Anthony’s boss had the impression that the change was not moving forward.

An article by Daniel Goleman, ''Leadership That Get Results'', published in the Harvard Business Review, highlights the importance of developing our ability to use and combine several leadership styles, while adapting to the context, to make us more effective as a leader. The article presents the following 6 styles:

  • Coercive: requests, claims, makes decisions and ensures that they are carried out by the team.

  • Pacesetter: Controls, sets high performance standards and imposes an accelerated pace of work.

  • Visionary: defines the long-term vision and inspires to understand the destination by taking into consideration the context.

  • Democratic: asks for opinions and ideas, listens to concerns and seeks consensus.

  • Affiliative: seeks harmony and is concerned, as a primary motivator, with people's well-being and creating a strong emotional bond.

  • Coach: asks questions rather than giving answers, develops people and gives feedback on a daily basis.

Do you recognize yourself?

I talked about these 6 leadership styles and the contextual approach with Anthony. When I asked him about his change management and the needs of his employees, he realized that the democratic style was not the only style he could use and, above all, that it was not the best in all situations. He said, "I realize that my team needs me to be more directive right now, even though it's not natural for me.

Our next steps together were to work on how Anthony could adopt a more directive style, without distorting himself. We obviously all have a predominantly natural style. And we are not born with the ability to handle all leadership styles according to the context. It is something we learn through awareness and willingness.

I challenge you, in turn, to watch each other over the next few weeks. Are you adapting and juggling different leadership styles depending on the time, the mandate, the role to play, the influence to bring and the needs of your team members?

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