Business Management Styles

Which style are you?

There is really no “best” Management Style as we all know… Or do we? Much depends on whether you are a follower of the Tannenbaum and Schmidt school of thought, or perhaps the Hersey Blanchard – or even McGregor’s X and Y theory. So which are you?

Hersey Blanchard Style

Personally I go for Hersey Blanchard every time. Why? Because like all management decisions the key is that “it depends on the situation”, and of course the ability of the person being managed. The problem is that some managers are unable to flex between the styles, either sticking to pure direction, because they cannot let go, and continuing to micro manage even at a senior level. Alternatively there are those who allow so much freedom of action from the subordinate that in the end the manager effectively abrogates his duty and allows a free-for-all – the Delegator.

Direction and Delegation

So we often have this constant running between two totally different styles: Direction and Delegation. The manger gives out a task and then assumes the subordinate will get on with it, so disappears; then returns and wonders why the task has not been completed. So the task is handed out again, or re-assigned, with perhaps a modest reprimand and ensuing demotivation, and off we go again. 

So is there really a “best” style? Well maybe there is. Following the Hersey Blanchard model the manager can be a Director, a Coach, a Supporter, or a Delegator. There is really nothing new here: it’s all about:
  • TELL
  • SHOW
  • LET THEM TRY
  • and then LET THEM GO.

So what do you think? I go for the Coach every time. Why? Well those who need Direction still get it and those who need Support get that too. Almost the best of both worlds.

Counselling and Coaching

Again there are those who still confuse Coaching with Counselling, or refer to these in the same breath. Counselling is a totally different skill and in fact nothing to do with Management Style. Coaching is about SHOWING, a mixture of tell and support. 

I call Coaching “tough love”: one hand on the subordinate’s shoulder, the other outlining the rules and the consequences of breaking those rules! Coaches should help and guide with encouragement, but are also not afraid to get tough when needed in order to get their people back on track. If you think about it, isn’t this how we bring up our children? Lots of love and affection, but with checks and balances around bad behaviour?

Sounds easy – so why don’t managers spend more time Coaching their people? The reason often given is that they don’t have the time. I think the real reason is that many managers don’t have the skill. Many managers are almost thrown into the job with little or no help or understanding of the fact that up till the day they became a manager they were managing “things”; now they have to manage “people”. 

Management is a big step-up. Management styles need to be studied, absorbed, learned and practised. New managers need help – so don’t be afraid to ask for it. Recognising you need help, and asking for it, is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Oakwood offers Leadership & Management and Coaching and Mentoring programmes. 

Dennis O’Donnell
CEO Oakwood International

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