Great Managers Choose to Develop Character

You are probably well aware of the four main management styles: we have autocrats and free-reign (laissez faire) managers and, within both groups, we have some managers who are more concerned about getting the job done (task oriented) and others who are more focused upon the needs of the team (people oriented).

If you think about it, the combination of those two dimensions leads to four, recognisable styles that conform pretty well with Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory. It’s not too difficult to work our which style you have if you can answer two simple questions honestly.

  • Do you tend to tell people what to do or do you tend to let the team decide for themselves wherever possible?
  • Which is most important to you: ensuring the job gets done properly or keeping the people in the team happy?

Of course, concern for people and concern for task are both important. But you are very likely to have an opinion as to which is most important and it is useful to identify which of them it is. So you should try to think about the above questions in relation to how you would normally behave.

The Director = Task Focus + Autocrat

Correlating quite closely with the Ennegram Type #8 personality, The Director is unquestionably the boss. It’s ‘my way or the highway’ for such managers. They tend to thrive in crisis situations where strong leadership is usually exactly what is required.

The Conductor = Task Focus + Free-Reign

The Conductor is much more hands-off in relation to the methods used to achieve the goals, but still has a strong desire to see the job completed. Preferring to allow the team the freedom to decide how to tackle things, The Conductor keeps them focused on the required end-result.

The Coach = People Focus + Autocrat

The Coach is concerned with the people in the team and gets results by analysing and supervising their working methods, looking for ways to do things better, quicker and more effectively.

The Enabler = People Focus + Free-Reign

This is the most hands-off of the four styles. The Enabler sets the goals and empowers the team, then chooses to take a back seat. Enablers are there when they are needed, providing the necessary support and guidance. But decisions are mainly taken by the team.

It doesn’t really matter which of these styles is your natural one. They all work well in certain situations. However, the bad news is that none of them work well in all situations. That is the essence of situational leadership i.e. you attempt to change your style to whatever is appropriate for the situation you find yourself in.

But … is there another way? I would like to suggest that there is. If you to look after the development of your own basic character, you will find it will become that much easier for you to manage other people.

So, instead of trying to match your style with the situation, I would suggest that you look at developing yourself into a person who genuinely has equal concern for getting the job done and looking after the people who are doing the producing. Interestingly, this is exactly how Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 habits of Highly Effective People’, defined the term ‘effective’ in his book i.e. striking the balance between these two concerns.

In addition, by cultivating a group decision-making process that involves you, as the manager, retaining the authority to decide whilst, at the same time, not actually doing so before consulting with your team, you can effectively strike the midpoint on the other dimension, between autocrat and free-reign (laissez faire).

Now the above is easy enough to say, but not necessarily that easy to do. It requires a solid commitment to developing yourself. But it is something that all really great managers have done and it is something you can do too. If you would like to do this, I would suggest you study Stephen Covey’s the ‘7 Habits’.

To get you started, here is a link to a comprehensive article: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

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