RSS Loosen the Reins: How Leadership Style Impacts Your Employees

How many of us have had leaders, managers, or supervisors who needed to be in control of everything? I have found that leaders who micromanage their employees aren't nearly as effective as those who work to influence them instead. Management expert Myron Rush confirms my theory. Rush talks about four distinct leadership stylesdictatorial, authoritative, consultative and participative – and he finds abundant long-term benefits with a more cooperative leadership environment.

The Controlling Supervisor

I remember a supervisor I had many years ago who wanted to control what I did at work, how I did it, and how much time I needed to get the job done.  If that wasn’t enough, he took ownership of the results without acknowledging my effort in the slightest. The point I want to make is that this supervisor was at his most comfortable when he controlled every aspect of the work environment, likely because it made him feel confident in the outcome.

From the perspective of my supervisor, this leadership style "worked." He picked a team member in which he had confidence, established strict performance expectations, and monitored the activities so that the results met expectations, much like Rush’s dictatorial leader. However, I felt constrained by having to work in this way. Rather than share with me the scope of the project, the outcome expected or even a timeframe, my supervisor left me in the dark. Don’t get me wrong —  many jobs require that you do things in a very precise way; for example, to avoid safety issues, legal problems or other adverse consequences. In this instance, though, there were no potential consequences other than not meeting the proposed deadline.

As leaders, I think we need to understand that we actually "control" very little.We can’t control attitudes, thoughts, the depth of a team members’ personal initiative, or their ability to use their time in the most effective manner. In effect, we can’t really control the outcome.

The Influential Supervisor

What we ought to do is use our influential position to lead team members in achieving desired results. This influence is something that leaders have in abundance and is the single greatest asset in their toolbox.

By using influence, leaders can…

  1. Make an impact on the vision of an organization as well as the work culture.
  2. Guide the carrot and the stick.
  3. Prescribe both positive and negative consequences – positive in the form of coaching and mentoring, as well as negative in the form of reprimands and counseling.

The tight reins I felt from my former supervisor limited both my learning opportunity and job satisfaction. Perhaps I learned something, but it was a de-motivating experience overall.  I could have learned so much more if given the chance to define more of my own project parameters.  Looking back, I’m appreciative of one big take-away: leading is not a matter of control, and controlling is not leading.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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