“One size fits all” doesn’t work when it comes to managing people. People are, well, people with differing personalities, likes, dislikes, skills, genders, life experiences, and circumstances. It is no wonder managers and employees become frustrated with one another over such things as performance expectations, core values and culture. We’ve shared that nearly 80% of employee turnover was due to poor management. While we’ve discussed the heart of the manager in one of our blog posts, let’s consider whether the turnover is really due to poor management, or is it in fact due to a learned management style that treats all employees exactly the same.
Often management training programs offered by training organizations tend to teach managers to follow a set pattern of behavior with all employees. Managers can swallow the myth that successful management is a matter of doing A – B – C.
One issue that can cause problems is the issue of leadership style. Much has been written regarding the success and failure of participative and autocratic leadership over the years. Many of the text books and management seminars tend to promote participative leadership and speak poorly regarding autocratic leadership.
Sometimes I use the following example in my MBA classes regarding leadership style:
Let’s suppose that a local hospital has taken its nursing supervisors through management training. During training, they are told that participative leadership is good and autocratic is bad. Now let’s say a student from our class goes into cardiac arrest. We call “911”, and off the person goes to the hospital. Awaiting the student is the nursing supervisor now under the opinion that she must manage this situation in a participative manner. As the student is brought into the emergency room, the nursing supervisor asks the rest of the team, “Gee what do you think we should do first?”
Then we ask the students: “Which type of leadership style would you like to see now?” Inevitably the students want the nursing supervisor to bark orders (especially if they’re playing the role of the supposed cardiac arrest patient)! It appears there are times when an autocratic style is more fitting – and successful!
In general, participative leadership style is more successful when:
Employees are highly trained
- Teamwork is required
- Acceptance is necessary
- Creativity is involved
Participative leadership often fails when:
The situation is an emergency
- The employees are untrained
- The work is very routine
What if leadership is an art requiring the assessment of all kinds of contingencies, including the employees’ likes, dislikes, skills, differences, personalities, and the circumstances found in the organization. Maybe a manager needs to use multiple styles to meet the different contingencies?
Let’s leave this conversation with some questions.
Is performance a struggle in your organization? Do you get the very best from your employees? Do you go home exhausted from work? Do your instructions get mixed up in the translation?
Why not seek out some one-on-one coaching from executive advantage. Having a personal trainer is something many top executives use to be more successful. Our vision is restoring hope to managers who are struggling with their management responsibilities. To find help, contact Doris or Bob!