Stop and think about it for a second; managing a business, an organisation, or a team of people requires a certain set of skills. It’s not just about understanding the financials and delivering the numbers – really good managers make clear decisions, they engage, they inspire, they connect with people.
When your manager puts you in charge of organising a project, what would you do first?
What would you do if tasks start to fall behind and the plan is off track?
Would you chase everyone to get back on track, regardless of other commitments they have?
Or would you ease off, knowing that they are strained and just busy doing their jobs, let alone the extra tasks you have given them?
How you answer these questions would say a lot about your personal leadership style and what your first reaction would normally be. Some leaders are very task orientated and less people oriented and just want to get the job done, regardless of how people feel about it, whereas other people may be the complete reverse, opting for a happy camp over task effectiveness.
Other people may well be a more balanced of the two, showing a drive for task completion as well as a holding a little more emotional intelligence , thus accommodating employee needs.
There is no right or wrong answer, per se, however, just as no one type of leadership style is best for all situations.
It is useful to understand, though, what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then begin working on developing skills that you may be missing.
One of the management theories that have been recognised as providing some useful leadership style insights for businesses and organisations, is the ‘Managerial Grid’ of behavioral leadership, that was developed in the mid-60s by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton.
The way that this model assesses management effectiveness is by mapping behaviours against a grid which uses ‘concern for production’ (as the x-axis) and ‘concern for people’ (as the y-axis).
The Managerial Grid is a practical and useful framework that helps one think about their leadership style. By plotting ‘concern for production’ against ‘concern for people’, the grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity. The reason being, too much of one thing is not good.
The need to be balanced is essential for effective team leading. Let’s take an example:
If a manager was concerned with output, and constantly pestered and drove his team, with little interaction, empowerment, and communication, the employees would soon become disheartened and productivity and morale would suffer.
Alternatively, if another manager focused solely on a concern for her people, without direction and support, targets would not be achieved, and productivity too, would suffer.
The five styles that this model documents are:
It’s an interesting exercise to try and identify which style you tend to operate in as a manager – where would you place yourself on Blake’s managerial grid?
The first step is identifying your preference as a manager and also being able to understand your effectiveness. The managerial grid offers the ability for you to critically analyse where you sit in the grid and to identify ways to becoming competent in both realms of production and concern for people, with the aim of being a ‘team leader’, or what the model above indicates as a ‘Sound Leader’.
Step 1 –Identify your natural leadership style
Step 2 – Identify real world examples
Step 3 – Identify ways to improve
Step 4 – Regularly reflect
In fact, in his book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ Dale Carnegie quoted a successful CEO of a large company, who said, the single most effective thing he had ever done in his life, that gave him so much success was to reflect on every day’s activities. This then allowed him to ask himself how he could improve and then make positive steps to do so.
It’s important to remember that the best managers have a strong understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.
The managerial grid is a great tool to help you appraise your own styles and although some theories have evolved since its conception, with the main leadership style of Transformational Leadership taking preference, (which is ultimately the Team Leader style referred to on the managerial grid), it is good practice, to consistently appraise your own skills and improve them.
After all, if you don’t know where you are right now, how do you know where to improve?