Do you think that every manager is automatically a leader? Good or bad? Certainly managers should be leaders … but what does it actually take?

Supervisors, managers and executives need to see that tasks are done, that people are held accountable and that some measurement of performance is achieved … and communicated. But, in my mind, actual leadership is more strategic and engaging.

are_you_a_manager_or_leaderIt’s about setting the vision and creating an environment to execute it. It’s about keeping people focused and motivated. It means setting a common direction, with an ultimate goal.

It means helping individuals understand their role and the intrinsic value they bring to the organization. It means giving people the support they need to execute their respective goals – ever-focused on the vision.

It means communicating effectively and frequently … when things go well in the organization … and when they don’t.

True leadership creates an environment of trust, openness and respect. This can only happen when people’s ideas are valued – which means being asked for them and being heard. It means always having ideas considered… and sometimes having them accepted and implemented.

Unfortunately, in my mind, when this kind of leadership is lacking people slowly, but surely start to tune out. Stop caring. Do just the minimum.

Oftentimes, executives and managers think they are providing effective leadership, but, I believe they are deluding themselves. This is borne out by Gallop Poll workforce statistics of disengagement hovering at about 71% . So let’s look at different types of managers.

Types of Managers

My observation of many managers who are in a position of leadership has them falling into one of four types.

  • Autocratic Manager. This is when the manager has 99 votes and the rest of the folks have one. It’s the manager’s way or the highway. Certainly there are times in any organization where this style is required. However, it this is the case most of the time, you’ll find a lot of organizational indifference within the ranks.
  • Democratic Manager. In this situation, a leader would tend not to be dictatorial, but would strive to make sure that everyone has a vote. Majority wins. Everyone has an equal voice. This works well for company picnic locations and other non-strategic issues. But, if this style is used too predominantly, forward momentum will suffer.
  • Benevolent Manager. In this scenario, the manager has the “best interest of the worker” in mind. Decisions are based, not on involving the individual, but on what the manager thinks is good for that person (or team). Certainly it is great to think of others and be considerate of their needs, but when it’s imposed based solely on what the manager thinks is good, versus engaging in conversation, it can result in resentment and a feeling of exclusion. People don’t want to be “taken care of”, they want to be respected and included.
  • Egalitarian Manager. This style is the most productive over the long run. It is where the manager and the workforce enjoy mutual respect. They work collaboratively. They listen – both ways. They share in two-way communication. Egalitarian leaders know that every individual, at every level, has a valuable contribution to make to the success of the organization. And they work it … every day, every week, every year.

Of course, a good leader has to be a combination of these styles (based on the work situation and business need). Managers will find themselves falling into each type … sometimes dictatorial, other times benevolent or democratic. People appreciate that … as long as the majority of time the leaders are operating from an egalitarian perspective.