Whether you’re the CEO or a supervisor, how effective is your leadership style? When asked that question, many leaders will respond by saying something like, “I know that I’m a tough boss. That’s my style and I’m sticking to it” or “I’m a people person and I get the most out of my staff by being understanding.”
In both examples, the leaders could be making a mistake. Too often a leadership style is only seen as being about the leaders and not the employee. Employees are seen as needing to be “broken,” like a horse, to a particular style. When people don’t change in the desired way, a lot of time is spent on trying to fix them.
Instead you may find it more effective to ask yourself whether your leadership techniques are getting you the results that you want. If ruling with an iron fist isn’t working then try a few more pats on the back. And vice versa. Keep in mind that this process is not about you but rather it’s about generating a positive outcome. As a leader it can be very easy to lose sight of this and instead take staff performance personally. That kind of thinking can create a very antagonistic situation and can isolate you from your team.
College football coaches change their leadership styles all the time. They can’t be as demanding of a freshman heavy squad as they would if their team is full of experienced seniors. But in both cases, the ultimate goal is winning the game and getting the most out of the team.
In a perfect world, leaders would be able to install a staff that perfectly fits their style. But most of the time, you inherit employees and you become a part of their existing work culture. In the past, those who didn’t fit your style would eventually leave the organization for a better environment. It’s a different story in today’s economy, where downsizing and cutbacks have people staying in their current jobs because they don’t have anywhere else to go.
Isn’t it better to focus on maximizing the talents of the team you have in place? Adjusting your style to fit their needs will not only boost productivity but save you from the hassle and expense of hiring and training someone new.