I had the opportunity to work with a group of 35 managers this week in a full-day strengths based leadership training event. One of the first questions I asked was for each person to describe their management style in one word. Obviously you might need more than one simple word to describe your style but it was an interesting exercise to learn more about each person and connect the group. The responses ranged from direct, listener, empowering, positive, supportive and more. It’s critical for each manager to understand his/her management style and then gain feedback on how effective it is.
If you’re not sure what your management style might be, a valuable approach is to identify your strengths to first understand what you do well (you can take the CliftonStrengths assessment to identify your top strengths). As an example, if your strength is developer your management style might be supportive, if your strength is consistency your style could be fairness and if your strength is strategic your style might be thoughtful. One of the words that was shared repeatedly was direct and I think it will be helpful to discuss in more depth.
It’s important to understand that being direct is neutral but it’s the person that makes a “direct” management style effective or ineffective. When you use your management style effectively you increase trust and respect and when you don’t you decrease trust and respect.
When a “direct” management style is effective, people know where they stand, they get immediate feedback on a project, issues are dealt with before they escalate and decisions are made rather than put off. For example, one client was direct in dealing with a conflict by identifying the issue in a timely way and talking to the people involved to understand the issues and make suggestions to help resolve it. This was an effective approach because it dealt with the issue, helped the team stay on track and prevented any additional drama.
When a “direct” management style is ineffective, the manager’s direct words can be harsh, insensitive, offensive, off-putting, increase conflicts and lack compassion. For example, the manager who gives negative feedback in an offensive way in the middle of a meeting and embarrasses someone on his team so the person receiving it is demotivated and wondering if they need to find another job.
Managers need to understand that sometimes you need to tone up or tone down your management style rather than say this is how I am so take it or leave it. Managers need to be aware enough to observe how their style is working to engage the team, build trust, create a stable environment, instill hope, show compassion and produce results. It’s not enough to only deliver results without the other elements if you want people to want to work on your team and contribute at their highest levels.
What’s your management style and how do you know if it’s effective?
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Brookfield Property Partners, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Dress for Success. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook