It's not easy to be an effective leader. With different employee personality types, the rise of remote workers and the desire for autonomy in the workplace, determining the best management styles for your team is more important than ever.
"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."
Unfortunately, not all leadership approaches are the right ones. Here are four common management styles that aren't always effective in the modern workplace.
1. The avoider
Avoiders are afraid to take risks and have few good ideas. They often tell their employees that they can't help right now, and then 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, according to Canfield.
"[Avoiders] make problems bigger by not dealing with them as quickly as they should," added Diane Batayeh, CEO of Village Green. "More times than not, delaying a problem can negatively impact the business and make it a much bigger challenge than it may have been if dealt with sooner."
2. The accommodator
Accommodators are driven by a need for social affirmation and just want to be liked by their team. Canfield said that in meetings, these leaders provide lots of positive feedback, regardless of the quality of the idea.
Batayeh noted that these leaders are peacekeepers and tend to avoid conflict or decision-making. The accommodator tends to be inconsistent in style and delivery and cannot be relied on to make tough decisions when necessary.
3. The competitor
Competitors would rather do everything their own way. They often have good ideas, but when their teams, through resistance or a lack of support, challenge them, it minimizes or eliminates the benefit of these ideas. Competitors push their teams for ideas to the point of frustration, which can lead to an effective decision but little buy-in from employees.
"I'm not a fan of competitors," said Batayeh. "They are always focused on achieving goals at the expense of someone else. I see them somewhat as bullies – they are demanding, uncooperative and, frankly, insecure. This is the worst of the four ineffective styles."
4. The compromiser
Compromisers settle for half a good decision and half the buy-in that might be developed. These leaders create less interpersonal stress among team members but don't know how to manage options and be more effective as a team, Canfield said.
"I was guilty of this early in my career when I allowed people to use excuses for not achieving goals," Batayeh said. "A valuable lesson learned was that a compromiser isn't going to get the best results because the bar is continuously moving."
She added that a better approach is to assess circumstances that occur along the path and make adjustments to deal with them but never compromise the ultimate business goal.
Why collaborative, communicative leadership works
One leadership style that does work, said Canfield, is a collaborative style, in which the manager can 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 told Business News Daily. "This takes advantage of the principle that people support what they help create."
To this end, Batayeh advised leaders to develop meaningful and effective relationships with others in a manner that encourages maximum productivity through empathy, caring and collaboration.
Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith Corp., agreed, noting that you can foster a culture of collaboration and integration with open communication up and down the organization.
"You can set up employees for success through believing in experimentation and learning by trial, but also provide guidance often through the form of executive mentorship," Hamilton said. "Leaders should implement a policy of inclusive decision-making, and ask for feedback from all employees affected by a new procedure, regulation, etc. Good leaders will encourage respectful dialogue with employees before making impactful decisions."
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.