I’ve seen many different styles of leadership, some good, some bad and some downright awful. My least favourite is the high pressure, bullying style. I’d even go as far as to say I’ve seen some leaders that are bordering psychopaths.
Dr. Christopher J Patrick’s (Clinical Psychologist at the University of British Columbia) Triarchic model classifies a psychopath as having 3 main characteristics:
- Boldness (high self confidence and hence low stress),
- Disinhibition (impulsive and a need for instant gratification), and
- Meanness (and we’ve all seen meanness). I’ve witnessed some leaders take pleasure out of making employees cry.
The reason high pressure, bullying style is my least favourite is not because it doesn’t get results. Actually, this style can gain some significant short term benefits. An extreme directive management style is necessary in some circumstances, such as when someone doesn’t know what they are doing, or urgent action is required, such as exiting a building in the case of fire.
My dislike of this style is based on the long term effects on the team dynamics and team members subjected to it. Employees generally want to do a good job, and normally this includes providing satisfaction to their superiors - even if this is purely for self benefiting reasons, such as pay awards and promotion.
What happens when this need to provide satisfaction goes too far? And more importantly, who is responsible?
I’ve seen examples where site leaders have manipulated their performance statistics and even an example where a manufacturing manager changed serial numbers on products to pretend to the customer that more products had been made, which in their thinking was the right thing to do to keep the boss happy.
As a leader, do you think you have a responsibility for the behaviour of your teams?
If your shadow as leader has resulted in them acting a certain way do you not bear the responsibility?
My advice would be to get to know yourself, your team and your leadership style as a matter of urgency if any of this resonates with you.
The good thing is, you can change your style. You can learn new styles that are much more effective. My favourite leadership style is “leadership from within”. This style promotes listening, effective communication and ultimately leads to the 2 key mantra’s of good leadership: Team Ownership and Initiative.
Do your teams own their own problems and use initiative to resolve them? How often have you been presented with the problem of your employees using too much initiative?
It’s a fascinating management problem when your team are taking too much ownership and using too much initiative, and much more fun than telling them what to do.
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