Getting Leadership Results
In our previous article, Leadership, Back to Basics, the difference between the Characteristic Model of Leadership and the Results Based Model was explored. It was concluded that the Results Based Model provided any individual the best means of performing their leadership role, because it concentrated on the achievement of goals versus the difficult modification of an individual’s personality. The next question is that after this conclusion, how to motivate the team or followers to achieve those desired results.
Daniel Coleman has authored an article entitled Leadership That Gets Results in the March 2000 issue of the Harvard Business Review. He presents the results of a study done by the consulting firm of Hay/McBar which used the data from 3,871 executives to show there are distinct leadership styles. These styles spring from different components of emotional intelligence. (See our previous article on Leadership and Emotional intelligence). It needs to be remembered that each leadership is situational and the styles discussed may work in one situation but not another. These styles are defined as:
A new manager, with the reputation of a turnaround artist, comes on the scene at a company which is not meeting the expectations of its board of directors. The manager, as expected, begins to reduce staff, sell off lackluster businesses and makes tough decisions. Decision making is top down, with other points of view discouraged and even punished.
Although this style may produce short-term results, in the long run it causes great damage. It kills new ideas and minimizes the flexibility necessary to prosper in an ever changing environment. Managers lose their sense of ownership and are reluctant to pursue the organization’s mission. There is no doubt that this style has its time and place, but there is a point where the rebuilding of the management team is needed. Knowing when that transition point occurs is critical.
The other day I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest for the evening was Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, who was explaining their new program to help finance college education for their employees. Schultz stated that at Starbucks they understand that if they treated their employees well, then the employees would treat their customers well. That would produce a great customer experience and that was at the core of their business success. Jon Stewart jokes that he thought that coffee was the core of the business and that illustrates the concept of the authoritative leadership style.
Authoritative leaders bring a clear vision and vibrant enthusiasm to their organizations. That vision and enthusiasm is contagious and permeates everyone in the organization including the store managers and the employees. The coffee has to be good, but the customer has to have a great experience. This is one of the most effective leadership styles, but requires the type of true insight only available from those who have a deep understanding of the keys to business success. Platitudes such as “we are a world class organization” are often seen in the vision statement of organization, but are just that, platitudes, which do not allow others to understand the organization’s vision for success.
One might observe that the authoritative leadership style of Howard Schultz described above is also affilliative. Let look at the difference. The authoritative style is about vision. The affilliative style is about people. The coercive style demands, “Do what I say,” and the authoritative urges, “Come with me”. The affilliative leader says, “People come first.”
The affilliative leader strives to keep people happy and builds strong emotional bonds. This builds strong loyalty. This builds upon strong communication, where ideas and inspirations are shared. The organization has great flexibility.
Although this approach sounds impressive, it does have its downsides. First, there is always a great diversity in the personality of the follower, causing a complex issue in building those emotional bonds. What builds loyalty in one person may not do the same in others. This style may also lead to mediocre perseverance by some. This approach would not be used on its own but only in combination with others.
This style is exactly what its title says; the process is all about a democratic system where many are involved. It involves a series of meetings where the subject is discussed, plans are made and goals are set. It is a time-consuming process and cannot be one used in a crisis situation. It is often used when the leader does not have knowledge needed to set goals and plans, therefore the knowledge must come from the followers. There is always a great degree of buy-1n by those involved with this approach. It should be avoided when the employees are not competent or informed to offer sound advice.
This style is similar to the coercive style but even more demanding. It needs to be used only sparingly. The leader sets extremely high performance standards and exemplifies them himself. He quickly pinpoints those who don’t measure up to those standards and demands more from them. If they don’t rise to the occasion they are quickly replaced. Employees feel overwhelmed and feel the pacesetter doesn’t trust them.
An engineering department made it a practice to promote the best engineer to the position of supervisor. It was clearly understood that the reason for his promotion was his design proficiency. During the first meeting with the new supervisor, the design engineers would present their initial concepts on a design process. The supervisor because of his higher expertise and standards would then exert his new authority to override the concepts presented. This eventually led to creating a group of demoralized designers and a fall-off in productivity. In most cases, the new supervisor had to be demoted.
This leadership style can be very effective in helping people overcome their weaknesses and build new competencies. It works very well when employees are already aware of their weaknesses and are up to improvements. It works poorly when they are resistant to learning and changing their ways. Because of the constant communication and time involved,it is the least popular style of leadership.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Leadership is situational; therefore one leadership style doesn’t work every time. Good leaders can employ multiple approaches or approaches in combination. Crisis situations may require the coercive style to start, but a later change to the authoritative as conditions improve. A democratic style may be best used when the change that is necessary requires agreement of those involved and adequate time to implement. Knowledgeable business coaches, because of their wide range of experience, can help analyze the situation and provide the guidance necessary.