At its core, leadership is about making key decisions and guiding your employees to act on them. People in management positions can take various approaches to this task, and their personal leadership styles will determine if their teams and organizations will benefit or suffer.
"Leaders are responsible for improving the performance of organizations," said John Canfield, corporate speaker and management consultant. "Two significant components of [a leader's] decisions are the quality of the decision and the level of buy-in associated with it. Effective leaders want them both."
Canfield outlined four common management styles that aren't always effective in the modern workplace: [Smart Leadership: Delegate, Prioritize and Simplify]
Avoiders are afraid to take risks and have few good ideas. They often tell their employees that they can't help right now, and nothing gets done. If they call the meeting, they may defer the process to a facilitator and either multitask through the meeting, or move in and out of the meeting room, taking care of "more important" business.
Accommodators are driven by a need for social affirmation and just want to be liked by their team. When it's time to make a decision, they say, "Whatever you say; I'm just glad to help." In meetings, these leaders provide lots of positive feedback, regardless of the quality of the idea.
Competitors would rather do everything their own way. They often have good ideas, but when they're challenged by their teams through resistance or a lack of support, it minimizes or eliminates the benefit of these ideas. Competitors push their team for ideas to the point of frustration, which can lead to an effective decision but little buy-in from employees.
Compromisers haven't learned to expect more. They settle for half a good decision and half the buy-in that might be developed. Their motto is, "I can live with that," which is a lazy stopping point. These leaders create less interpersonal stress among team members but don't know how to manage options and be more effective as a team.
What does work, Canfield said, is a collaborative leadership style, in which the manager is able to both make effective decisions and build the necessary support among his or her team.
"Collaborators are leaders who are good at assembling team members, have something to contribute, and work with the team in such an interactive way that everyone contributes and buys in to the decision," Canfield said. "This takes advantage of the principle that people support what they help create."
Of course, there is a place for each of the other management strategies when full collaboration isn't possible. For example, a leader may need to become a competitor when he or she doesn't have the time to work with the team, or an avoider if he or she truly isn't able to address an issue right away. However, being a collaborator often proves to be the best method of leadership.
"Settling for less than collaboration is a business decision — and often not a very good one," Canfield told Business News Daily. "As a leader, you have a choice, and your choice depends on how you think about leading. Who leads and contributes to the decision-making process? Who gets to win? Consider yourself an active learner — celebrate your fallibility, and learn from your leadership mistakes."
Originally published on Business News Daily.