Most effective leadership style to managing the work of subordinates

Conceivably there was a phase when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. But in the new economy, where value comes progressively from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undistinguishable gears in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to foster skills, cultivate talent and inspire outcomes.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to be aware of this fact, as he was to identify so many other management veracities. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the mode business was organized.

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With the upsurge of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Mr. Drucker wrote. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”

Over the years there has been a lot of debate on the similarities and differences between management and leadership. Weathersby (1999) argued that “management is the allocation of scarce resources against an organization’s objective, the setting of priorities, the design of work and the achievement of results” whereas leadership “focuses on the creation of a common vision”. Schruijer and Vansina (1999) proposed that management is about “doing things right” and leadership is “doing the right things”. Both studies give the idea to view the management function as an administrative role while placing the leadership function as a visionary role.
Locander, Luechauer, and Pope (2007) support this idea by arguing that leadership is like theater and that the leader is the visible manifestation of an organization’s or project’s success or failure. Therefore, he or she must involve the followers to believe in and attain a anticipated result “By paying attention to what people want and expect, and by searching for solutions to problems, the leader can act appropriately and fulfill the desired role” (Locander, et. al, 2007).

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Leadership style and management style are often used interchangeably, but which term you select may be suggestive of how you perceive yourself as a leader. Management signifies power, possession and sole authority. According to Kathy Barany, PHR, principal of Strategic Management Solutions,

Stretegic Management Sollutions Logo

Managers typically claim ownership of subordinates, viewing them as “my employees.” Leaders generally see themselves more as mentors and coaches and, according to Barany, are likely to take a first among equals approach to team building.

Kotter argues that leadership and management involve two distinct but complementary sets of action. Leadership is about coping with change while management is about coping with complexity.

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* From Peter G. Northouse’s Leadership: Theory and Practice, Fourth Edition (2007) in which he draws from John Kotter’s A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, (1990).

Which personal style should managers adopt to ensure success?

What is the most effective approach to managing the work of subordinates?

These questions have been extensively researched and debated over the last century, and while the general consensus has moved away from ‘command and control’ to management and leadership towards more consultative and participative approaches, there is no single ideal, as the best approach may vary according to circumstances and individual characteristics (CMI 2013).

With reference to the point of view by the CMI (CMI 2013)

I would like to state Manager and leader entirely are two different roles, often we use the terms interchangeably. Managers are enablers of their team member’s success. They warrant that their people have everything they need to be productive and fruitful, well trained, contented and have least roadblocks in their track. They are groomed for the next level, recognized for great performance and coached through their challenges.

On the contrary, a leader can be anyone within the team who possess certain talent, creative out of the box thinking and has great ideas, who have experience in a certain aspect of the business or project that can prove useful to the manager and the team. A leader leads based on strengths, not titles.

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The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.

Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.

“Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.”

Chen (2006) states “Business is often a roller coaster of highs and lows. Therefore it is to be expected that high performance leaders are more skilled at motivating themselves and others in challenging situations”.

As a member of a team when you’re dealing with constant challenges and changes, and you’re in uncharted territory with no means of knowing what comes next, no one can be expected to have all the answers.

Not only do the greatest teammates allow different leaders to consistently emerge based on their strengths, but also they recognize that leadership can and should be situational, depending on team’s need. Sometimes a teammate needs a warm hug. At time the team needs a visionary, a new style of coaching, someone to lead the way.

In this way, performance is directed by the social and emotional connections among members, not the expectations of the boss. When this occurs, the manager is managing through the team by using the social bonds among members to shape behavior.

Thus, instead of being imposed and directed, in a group I would prefer suggestions, support, define, focus on, talk about, expect, hire for, lead discussions about, and evaluate performance against the conditions that foster the spontaneous formation of a team. A formal authority can be beneficial for pointing people’s time and attention to the right issues and conditions. My role in a team should foster and then sustain the conditions that help me perform efficiently. One might not feel completely comfortable with such an indirect approach, but that’s how teams work.

References:

smallbusiness.chron ‘What Effect Does Leadership Style Have on Subordinates?’ [Online] available from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effect-leadership-style-subordinates-54296.html [09 March 2014]

Weathersby, G. (1999). Leadership vs. Management. Management Review, 88, 5. [online] available from http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(ASCE)1532-6748(2008)8:2(61) [09 March 2014]

voices.yahoo.com ‘Leadership and Management: A Comparative Essay’ [online] available from http://voices.yahoo.com/leadership-management-comparative-essay-561790.html[09 March 2014]

voices.yahoo.comContemporary Leadership and Management Issues and Arguments’ [online] available from http://voices.yahoo.com/contemporary-leadership-management-issues-and-87175.html?cat=3[09 March 2014]

blogs.hbr.orgGood Managers Lead Through a Team’ [online] available from http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/04/good-managers-lead-through-a-t/[09 March 2014]

guides.wsj.com ’What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?’ [Online] available from http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership/[09 March 2014]

nelsontouchconsulting ‘Leadership vs. Management’ [Online] available from http://nelsontouchconsulting.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/leadership-vs-management/[09 March 2014]

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11 thoughts on “Most effective leadership style to managing the work of subordinates

  1. Agreed my personal opinion is that a manager needs to be a good leader to be effective as well. After all, what are dreams and visions without proper planning and, more importantly, action.
    Also Managers need to approach each employee differently especially when dealing with different range of age or gender. You can have a really unpleasant job but when the team is friendly and management fair reasonable and appropriate it could turn into a really enjoyable place to work for! After all we are all human beings and everybody has a different story!

  2. A well phrased and documented note on the aspect of effective leadership. Its always great to see that young professionals realize that an effective leader is key to drive his subordinates to achieve a common goal or task.

  3. A management is an art of getting work done through others.
    A managers can be hired for a particular job but a leader is a one who inspire the community and set examples to others.
    I beleive people like to follow leaders bcz thy hv a qwality to lead people sometime irrespective of hierarchy or rank a person can be a leader.

  4. Fascinating discussion. Eric Stein is a professor in the business school at Penn State who has spent the last several years researching creative behaviors, teaching business students how to express creativity in the workplace, and identifying critical success factors for innovation.

    The bottom line is that many schools and companies are just not doing a good job at nurturing creativity. However, his work indicates that creativity can be fostered. Check out ericwstein.com for more info.

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