Significant ways to balance leadership styles
Be it any organisation, from the highest rung to the lowest, one thing is common – everyone wants to be a leader. And what's wrong with that? Why...
Be it any organisation, from the highest rung to the lowest, one thing is common – everyone wants to be a leader. And what's wrong with that? Why wouldn't anyone want to be a leader? Being a leader sounds so powerful and exciting that it is hard not to want to be in that position of influence. However, being a leader of influence is easier said than done. And yes, reaching that powerful position may seem to be daunting at first but it eases out as time goes. But the fact is that for some people it stays intimidating all throughout if they do not tackle the responsibility head on right at the beginning.
The leadership style is all about the way a person uses to lead his/her subordinates and this style varies widely from one person to the other. Some leaders are the be-all and end-all of every decision while some others are all about delegations and do not take a step without discussing. The right kind of leadership is all about striking a balance between all the major styles.
When you take up the role of a business administrator in any organization, you are basically addressing the roles of both, a manager and a leader, and balancing between these two can be a highly sensitive act. It is easy to get caught up in the weeds and lose sight of the bigger picture when those amounts of responsibilities are heaped on to you. To strike the perfect balance between all styles of leadership, the following are the top questions that you need to ask yourself:
l Can the work get done with my intervention? If the answer is yes, then remove yourself from simply interfering and rather concentrate on motivating the team. Donning the hat of authority is only necessary when you need to implement changes to help the team perform better.
l How much do you focus on the results? Focusing on results is great but that should not be the only thing that you notice in any project. The focus should be more on the process as that way you will be able to find more alternatives to reach the same or better results.
l Are you the first person that people come to for advice? If the answer to this is a big yes, then you are truly already being seen as a leader. If not, look at the changes that you need to bring forth to be seen as a supportive and inspirational figure.
l What is the most discussed topic in your team? Is it the tasks at hand, the processes, the deadlines, or the strategy and big picture? Make sure that the discussions are balanced and the team is not leaning too hard in one direction or the other.
l Do you ask the team to complete the tasks without feeling the need to explain the objective? Your team will only be motivated to go that extra mile if they understand the reasons behind accomplishing the task that they are assigned.
l Who is held responsible when things go wrong? Do you blame yourself or the team? A great leader understands that the failure or success of the team is ultimately his/her responsibility.
At the base of all the questions lies the ability to comprehend yourself and your team's desires and motivations. A manager, who can balance the goals of the company and the aspirations of the team, and at the same time keep them driven towards excellence is the one who is held as the true leader.
Methods of achieving a balanced leadership style
Achieving a balanced leadership style is necessary to ensure long-term success, both for the company and personally. The energy and the attitude of the leader are channelized through the team that he/she handles, and thus, the balance is necessary to ensure that the team stays positive and focused. Here is a brief idea of the top three methods used by the renowned business administrators of our times.
l Communicate your ideas: The very essence of balanced leadership is that you need to start with a vision. However, it has to be a vision that you can articulate vigorously and clearly on each occasion. Blowing an uncertain trumpet is never an option when you want to deliver an effective leadership. Clear and honest communication is the key to getting the work done in any organisation. Whether you are conducting a performance review or communicating your aims for the quarter, the subordinates need to know what you require of them, where they stand at present, and how can they get to the end.
You cannot just hope to be commanding enough to set the goals, give the outlines, and be done with it to let them figure it all out on their own. Set milestones, have a vision to the end, and communicate the ideas and strategies well within the group to make sure that you can lead your team towards the achievement of their goals and yours.
l Know when to let go: You show your trust towards your team when you delegate the responsibilities towards them. You have given them the direction that they require and now you need to let them follow it through. But do not forget to reward them when they actually manage to make your vision into a reality.
l Strive to be the mentor and not the boss: A big part of the job of a business leader is being a mentor and not just another authoritative figure in the company. Put aside all the day-to-day distractions and schedule one-on-one time with the staff, take in their input, and listen to their grievances. The team will either listen to you out of fear or out of respect, and you can well understand which way works in the long-term. Be the mentor that understands the coordinates and their viewpoints and not the boss who merely orders them to get on with their task at hand. Engaging with the team encourages inputs and presents the opportunity to maintain a balance between your ideas and their views for the greater good of the company.
To be honest, the authoritative style is getting increasingly redundant in the modern business scenario where the corporate environment is more open and cordial than ever before as even the authorities understand that this brings in more efficiency and dedication.
The key point in all of the discussion above is that every business administrator needs to remember that he/she was once the person taking the orders from the superiors. When the positions are changed and you start giving the orders, you need to aim to be the leader that you ever hoped to have. Balanced leadership can be summed up as taking up a middle ground between being autocratic and democratic and knowing which side to lean to and when.
The author is a Senior Director at Institute of Management Studies (IMS)