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4 Types of Management Styles to Master to Become a Strong Leader

4 Types of Management Styles to Master to Become a Strong Leader

The type of leader you are has a significant impact on the success of your team. A strong leader is likely to inspire loyalty, hard work, and high levels of morale, whereas a poor leader can result in frequent turnover, loss of productivity, and unmotivated employees.

There are many steps you can take to make sure you’re in the former category. One of the actions you can take today is to understand and implement the types of management styles that will inspire your team to do their best work.

Company leaders and managers interact with their employees in a variety of ways – from collaborating on projects to providing feedback. So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that leaders also have a lot of influence on how employees feel about their jobs. In fact, a study found that nearly half of employees said they’ve quit a job because of a bad manager.[1]

If you take a closer look at the situation, you can find several direct correlations between the quality of a manager and important factors like employee engagement, retention, and happiness. That’s why mastering the most effective management styles is one of the key components to nurturing and growing a successful team.

1. Visionary Management Style

The visionary leader excels at articulating a high-level, strategic direction for the company and mobilizing the team towards this goal. In other words, the visionary leader is the person who provides a roadmap for the company, and the employees are the ones who use this map as a guide to pave the path forward.

However, this doesn’t mean that the visionary management style encourages authoritarian decision making. Even though it’s the leader who ultimately decides on the direction of the company, this vision is shaped based on what’s best for both the organization and its employees. That’s why visionary leaders need to be open minded – this allows them to absorb feedback from employees and make changes when obstacles arise.

One of the benefits of this type of management style is that it inspires trust between the leader and the employees. Visionary leaders rely on their teams to get the work done and, as a result, employees have more autonomy over their day-to-day roles. This is a productive way to build a strong relationship with your employees, especially since 39% of workers said being a micromanager was the worst trait a boss could have.[2]

Another benefit is that this management style is extremely flexible. One of the great things about a vision is that there’s more than one “right” way to reach it, which gives companies the ability to test out different paths and methods.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

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  • High emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility when obstacles come up
  • Being open-minded to feedback
  • The ability to inspire, motivate and mobilize groups
  • Strategic and long-term thinking skills
What the Visionary Management Style looks like in action:

A startup is launching a new product. The CEO sits down with her leadership team and, together, they come up with a high-level strategy for the release. She hosts an all-hands meeting to share the vision with the whole company and have a discussion around it. From there, she empowers her staff to come up with next steps.

The CEO is available to provide guidance along the way and checks in with team leads regularly to make sure everything is headed in the right direction, but doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day activities.

2. Democratic Management Style

A leader who follows the democratic management style collects the perspectives and feedback of their employees to inform decisions. This is done with the intention of building consensus among key stakeholders. Unlike top-down management styles, where decisions are made only by the leadership team, the democratic management style is transparent, encourages participation from employees, and is relatively objective.

This is beneficial because it ensures that the whole organization is aligned or, at the very least, understands how a major decision was made. This is important because employees can feel left out when decisions are made without their input. A Democratic Management Style is also effective because it gives everyone at the company a voice, which can lead to more diversity of thought.

This style has benefits for the leaders and managers of a company as well. Having the opportunity to consistently check in with employees and collect their feedback can lead to critical insights into the overall sentiment, frustrations, and desires for the future of the organization.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

What the Democratic Management Style looks like in action:

A manager has to decide whether or not their team should scrap a project that’s producing ambiguous results. Instead of making the decision on his own, he has one-on-one meetings with everyone involved in the project, puts out an anonymous survey, and gathers additional data.

After collecting all the feedback, he decides to cancel the project because most of the feedback suggested that it wasn’t a productive use of time.

3. Coaching Management Style

This management style puts the emphasis on the professional and personal growth of employees. Leaders who follow this style are deeply invested in the needs of their team and take on more of a mentor role versus a traditional “boss” role. This means they’re available to share advice and guidance, willing to serve as an advocate, and always looking for opportunities to help their employees thrive.

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What does this look like in practice? For instance, let’s say an employee demonstrates a lot of interest and promise in the field of inbound marketing. A leader who follows a coaching management style will find opportunities for this employee to work on inbound marketing projects, encourage him or her to attend relevant events and provide the space and resources to further develop the skills needed to succeed.

The coaching management style is a great one to master because it demonstrates to employees that their leaders care about their success and wellbeing. This inspires employees to produce high-quality work and makes it more likely that they’ll feel safe confiding in their managers about any issues that arise in their jobs. This is a much better alternative to having an employee who doesn’t trust their manager and leaves the company without warning.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

  • A strong desire to help employees grow personally and professionally
  • Strong listening and feedback skills
  • Empathy and the ability to connect with others
  • Problem-solving skills
  • The ability to build trust and meaningful relationships
What the Coaching Management Style looks like in action:

A manager has a struggling employee named Tim. She recognizes that Tim is a smart person and a hard worker but is going through a slump, so she uses an upcoming performance review as an opportunity to see how she can better support him. The manager uses strategic performance review phrases such as:

You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

or

I encourage you to keep doing [action]. I’ve received positive feedback that this has really helped the team [result].

to deliver feedback in a clear but empathetic way, and this opens up a productive dialogue around the challenges Tim is facing at work

Culture Amp, a company dedicated to making it easy to collect, understand and act on employee feedback recently compiled a great list of all these phrases and filled them in with real life examples in their article on performance review phrases, here are a few of them:

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You excel at [action], and I would love to continue seeing that from you.

Example from Culture Amp:

You excel at creating thoughtful marketing decks. I would love to have you continue taking the lead on them, especially since I know you enjoy the creative process.

I encourage you to keep doing [action]. I’ve received positive feedback that this has really helped the team [result].

Example from Culture Amp:

I encourage you to keep being a sounding board for your teammates. Many of your team members say you’re a great listener, and they feel comfortable sharing ideas with you.

Together, they come up with a plan of action that includes adding more variety to Tim’s workload and giving him the opportunity to refresh his skill set through company-sponsored online courses. The manager checks in with Tim regularly to make sure he feels like he has everything he needs to succeed.

4. Laissez-Faire Management Style

The laissez-faire management style is very hands-off and encourages employees to take initiative on most of the decision making, problem-solving, and work. When implemented in the right work environment, employees will appreciate having the trust, space, and autonomy to work in ways that will maximize their output.

Typically, companies that have a flat structure or don’t want to follow a rigid hierarchy are the best candidates for this management style. It’s also important to make sure you have a team of extremely driven and competent employees who are comfortable with having minimal oversight from leadership.

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Managers should also be prepared to go into conflict management mode whenever their employees lose focus or butt heads.

The benefit of this type of leadership is that it can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and productivity since there are no restrictions placed onto the way employees have to work or think. Similar to the Visionary Management Style, the amount of freedom granted to employees is also a great way to build a strong relationship based on trust.

The characteristics needed to master this management style include:

  • An immense amount of trust in your team members
  • The ability to be hands off but available when needed
  • Conflict management skills
  • Comfortable with decentralized structures
  • A knack for checking in on progress without being overly involved
What the Laissez-Faire Management Style looks like in action:

The Head of Marketing is launching a new project with his highly motivated, competent, and independent team. He assigns large chunks of the project to employees based on their strengths, gives them a deadline, and lets them run with their individual tasks. He’ll check in occasionally with the team members to see if there’s anything they need from him but, otherwise, remains completely hands off until the deadline.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the type of management style you decide to go with is completely up to you. If you need some guidance on how to make this decision, here are a few key questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • Which of these management styles aligns most with my existing strengths?
  • What are the gaps in my management style right now, and do any of these other alternatives fill those gaps?
  • What are the needs of my organization at this moment?
  • Have my employees shown a preference for one type of management style over another?
  • What type of management style do the company leaders I admire use?

Keep in mind that you’re not committed to a single type of management style throughout your career. You can test out a few and see what feels right to you, or you can create your own management style by blending your favorite parts of each one.

Don’t be afraid to explore and get creative – the ultimate goal is to master the management style that feels natural to you and also brings out the best in your employees.

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Featured photo credit: Charlie Solorzano via unsplash.com

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Dmitry Dragilev

Single-handedly grew a startup from zero to 40 million page views, Dmitry is a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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