Our leadership style, the approach we take to leading and managing is the single greatest factor influencing our impact on those around us, and our performance as managers. Our style is largely a function of how we think which is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, the assumptions we make about those around us, and how we habitually approach work, whether we focus on the task or people, or both.
Task and People Focus
We tend to have a natural leaning toward task or people. Focusing on one and not the other undermines the capacity of teams to achieve their full potential. Managers who balance both have a multiplier impact. They empower the people around them to achieve clear goals toward a shared mission and vision. In this way these managers expand the capacity of their team beyond what any individual within it could achieve on their own.
Empowered or disempowered
Our own sense of self has a resounding impact on the approach we take to managing and leading. Self-empowered people have a strong sense of self, defined internally by themselves, their purpose and values, which they do not compromise to fit in. Disempowered people rely on external factors to define who they are – other people’s opinion’s and regard for them, events and material factors. People who do not feel empowered tend to either defer to others for direction and approval, or compete against others for status or recognition. People who are more disempowered will tend to work harder at fitting in, compromise themselves and can be seen as inconsistent.
Our levels of empowerment can also have a bearing on how we view others around us, whether we see them as trustworthy or not. McGregor argued that managers’ assumptions about their staff reflect either Theory Y or X. Managers who espouse Theory Y, trust that their staff are driven to make a positive difference and managers just need to create the right conditions to enable them to. Theory X managers assume staff don’t want to work and will get out of work whenever possible. Theory X managers do not trust their people and feel compelled to closely manage and control them.
How secure we feel at any given time, can influence our levels of self-empowerment. In transition, when feeling incompetent or under-valued or criticised, under great stress or when managed by disempowered leaders, a manager can feel insecure and revert to measures that give them a greater sense of control. They could try to control the people around them, promote themselves above others: “So long as I look like I am better than others, I’ll be OK”. Or they might turn to others, or the rules for clearer direction and security, becoming more dependent: “If I just do what I am told, I’ll be OK.”
The more empowered a manager feels, the more empowering they become, the greater impact they have. Their approach multiplies their impact by raising the capacity of all those around them – fostering a belief that every single person matters. Providing a clear mission and compelling vision that inspires a committed following.
What’s your style?
This model is an adaption of the Human Synergistics Life Styles Inventory framework. You can gain a deeper insight and understanding of your thinking patterns by undertaking the LSI self-diagnostic.
If you are interested in undertaking the self-diagnostic exam, and developing an empowered leadership style, in us on our Clinician 2 Manager Acceleration Program by visiting this link.