An enormous amount of research, analysis, commentary, and advice has been written on the advantages and disadvantages of different management styles. My question for you here is not an academic exercise of which style works best in which specific circumstances. Rather, my question for you is what kind of manager do you want to be? That is to say, what style works for you personally? The reason I'm asking you this question is because at the end of day, we are not just managers, we're people. As a result, if you adopt a management style that doesn't fit your personality, ethical values, strengths, and abilities, then you are setting yourself up for failure. This failure can occur for a number of reasons including the following:
Your staff, at a gut level, may feel that you are not being authentic and as a result either don't trust you or don't understand you.
Acting against your personal nature and personal beliefs will eventually burn you out professionally.
People who strongly believe in what they are doing and how they are doing it exude a kind of vitality and conviction that is felt by others. The lack of this conviction in a leader (or manager) breeds contempt and a general lack of interest of those following.
It's hard to be your best when your job doesn't fit your personality, because you are not really being you. As a result, your job performance can suffer.
Enough about the bad stuff, I'm guessing that you get the point. All that said, what can you do to help assure that your management style matches your personality and is effective in the workplace?
The second part of this question, the effectiveness of your management style, we will discuss in future columns. For now, let's begin by considering the first part of this question, namely, does your management style match your personality. To that end, consider the following questions:
Are your actions as a manager based more on how you were told you should act or how you think you should act?
Do you act totally different at work than you do at home? If yes, does this feel right/natural or wrong to you?
At the end of the work day, on average, do you feel energized or totally drained and frustrated?
Are you happy with how you are treating your staff or does it feel artificial and mechanical?
Do you feel strength and conviction in how you manage your staff or do you feel contrived?
Your personal answers to these questions can help you decide if you are being true to yourself in the workplace. If you are being you, great! If you are not being you, the question is why and how do you feel about it?
I would like to tell you a story about a friend of mine (Of course I'm talking about myself here, I just don't want you to know it). In some ways my friend acted very consistently at home and at work. This consistency can be found in his honesty, non-confrontational style, and desire to please others. He also has some very notable differences between home and work. At home he is very easy going and laid back, at work he is very hard driving, decisive, goal driven, and continually moving, particularly since he started his own company. He personally feels very good and comfortable about both his consistencies and differences between his styles at home and the workplace.
The key to my friend's story is in the last line, that he feels good and comfortable about both the consistencies and differences in his personal and business style. The key for you is to have this same comfort even if all the criteria are different. The goal is for you to be you, not a derived you that is inconsistent with your values and/or personal makeup.
The primary advice and takeaways from today's column is to know that:
If you adopt a management style that doesn't fit your personality, ethical values, strengths, and abilities then you are setting yourself up for failure.
The goal is for you to be you, not a derived you that is inconsistent with your values and/or personal makeup.
This blog is an excerpt from my weekly nationally syndicated column with GateHouse News Service. My new columns can be found in GateHouse Media publications throughout the United States.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.