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Management Resource Library

Is Your Style a Good Fit?


How does your management style contribute to the success of your organization? How does your management style detract from the success of your organization?

These are powerful questions that require an honest assessment, some time to reflect, a focused insight on the implications and a consideration for change. If you are willing to go through the process, here are a few things to ponder:

  • Is your style open or closed? Are you secretive and wary of your employees and prefer to disclose information on "a need to know" basis? Or do you welcome open discussion, foster team understanding of group and individual responsibility and prefer highly visible performance score keeping?
  • Do you delegate responsibility or prefer to manage the details yourself? Do you give general guidance and allow the employee to figure out the how or do you prefer to give specific instructions so you'll know it's done right?
  • Do the same rules apply to you as to the others in the organization?
  • Do you have focused and consistent priorities or do they change frequently?
  • Do you prefer a logical and disciplined approach or an emotional and less structured one?
  • Do you have a high or low risk tolerance when making organizational decisions?
  • Do you focus on the short term or prefer a longer time horizon?
  • Do you spring to action immediately when facing a problem or do you prefer to analyze the situation, think through viable alternatives and then take a course of action?
  • When dealing with employees, suppliers and professional advisers, do you base your decisions more on economics alone or on the value of the products and services they provide?
  • Do you view employee mistakes as a learning opportunity or a validation of their incompetency and carelessness?
  • Do you welcome negative comments from your employees as a way to improve understanding and as an important source of feedback? Or do you view negative comments as an act of insubordination?
  • Do you see your role as the strong in-charge commander that people have to follow or a visionary leader that people want to follow?

Obviously, the list of questions can be expanded but you get the general idea. Once you've done that consider these:

  • Remember, no style is perfect. They all have their relative pros and cons and unintended consequences. Some are a better fit depending on the organization and its stage of development.
  • Is your existing style a good fit for where your organization is now and where it is headed? If you plan on explosive growth, you might need to develop middle management bench strength and this typically requires a more open, delegated and organizational learning style. If you remain the same size and the nature of the operations is not likely to change then maybe the current approach is fine.
  • If your style is not a good fit, do you have the courage to acknowledge it and either modify your modus operandi or appoint someone else to manage the daily affairs while you focus on more visionary and strategic issues? A wise manager knows when it's time to step aside or to change roles.

Your style is your style and it has probably served you reasonably well. But it's important to periodically assess its limitations, inherent trade-offs and future relevance. It's what great leaders do.