What is your leadership style? Do you feel compelled to direct and control every detail? Or, do you operate with a more flexible style; you give very clear instructions about the end result and allow others to chart their own path to that outcome? Are you a dictator (micro-manager) or a facilitator?
John Maxwell, noted international leadership guru, stated, “If no one is following, you are not leading; you are simply taking a walk.” Take the concept a step further by determining if they are following out of necessity or out of desire
Ideally, a leader adapts to the situation: the personalities involved, the experience of the team and the complexity of the task to be performed.
Personality - The presentation to a group of highly social energetic salesmen would be significantly different than a presentation to a more conservative, quiet group of highly detail oriented engineers or accountants. Come out bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm to engineers and they will be mentally running for the nearest exit. Open very quietly and low key with salesman and their attention immediately shifts to checking their email, texting a prospect or planning their evening social engagement. Deliver your message in the manner in which it will be best received by the listener.
Experience – A seasoned sales team would be ready to launch a new marketing campaign with minimal guidance. Indicate the product to be featured, the irresistible offer, and marketing timing. Start with a postcard campaign to be delivered in three phases; each phase is to be synchronized with social media and mobile presentations. They will know exactly what to do.
A high school student functioning as a summer employee would need more specific direction on writing their first press release or inputting technical data into an unfamiliar computer program. Written instruction, examples and perhaps the availability of assistance would speed the process.
Task – Designing a new company logo, mission statement and branding image could require creative freedom once the ultimate objective was clear and the entire team was unified. Ideally work with a high quality printer who has a design team available. Once the logo is created, the mission statement written and the branding image finalized, all materials could be produced without shuffling back and forth.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Micro-manager (control freak) - Early in my entrepreneurial journey, I was so specific about exactly how each task should be performed, that control and detail orientation were extremely high. The problem with tight control is that creativity by others is stifled. They do not feel empowered, enabled or even willing to volunteer ideas.
Darren Hardy, editor of Success magazine, admits to the same control issue. The problem is that the company growth and even the growth of the team members is limited to the manager’s time and capability to do everything; team members cannot grow without the freedom to make decisions.
Review Ellen Weber’s chart on the differences between the benevolent dictator and the brainpowered facilitator. The contrast becomes even more striking by removing the “benevolent” aspects. Benevolent does not apply to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, or Castro, though dictator and control freak certainly does. In order to reach maximum effectiveness, a CEO would encompass the benevolent aspects.
Facilitator – Charismatic, participative and transformational leaders have extremely clear ideas about their desired outcome but they allow others to “feel” heard and “feel” involved in the decision. Facilitative leadership is particularly evident in volunteer organizations such as service clubs and churches. The experienced sales team mentioned about would function best with a facilitative leader who would encourage idea flow and compile all of the input for the new logo, mission statement and brand image.
Kristina Dems describes Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson as quiet leaders aka facilitative leaders. They have an extremely clear idea of their goal but they lead by example rather than telling or forcing others. They do what needs to be done and inspire others to contribute and participate. The more intelligent, accomplished and expressive the participants, the better the facilitative approach functions.
A facilitative leader will draw more participation and stimulation from the team because they will adjust to the personalities, experience and complexity of the task.