The Tale of Two Styles of Leadership

I have been fortunate to work with so many unique people over my career.  Some were leaders and some were not. It was always easy to distinguish between those who managed a position and those who developed an amazing team to achieve uncommon results. I’ve had to report to both types of leaders and would like to share my experiences with each.

The “Let’s Hit the Metrics” style created this kind of environment:

  • Nothing is good enough
  • Promotion of those they liked
  • Pointed out daily what was missed by each individual
  • Never appeared to smile
  • Didn’t encourage team connection and discussion
  • Focused only on the daily stats, weekly numbers, and quarterly goals
  • Withheld information
  • Criticized others in public
  • Did not encourage ideas to improve the system
  • Received reports of team members who did not like the management style

This branch was considered to have good quality work, good customer service, and good profitability. It was one of the largest branches in the organization. I only stayed for one year before I transferred to another area. The only drawback to this branch from a company perspective was high turnover.  A few years later, many other branches matched or exceeded the growth of this branch.

The “Let’s Build Success for All” style created this kind of experience:

  • Wide-open thinking to understand the whole situation
  • Interest in others’ perspectives
  • Explored other options
  • Vetted best practices in this arena
  • Focused on what people need to be successful
  • Shared the vision, mission, goals, actions, and metrics regularly
  • Success builder on how we can best support others to achieve their goals
  • Objective and fact-based in discussions and assessment of others
  • Growth-focused based on strengths, gaps and how we could close the gap
  • Focused and serious in meetings with moments of laughter as well
  • Celebrated small wins, gave praise regularly
  • Praised in public and coached others in private
  • Had honest and tough conversations to make sure everyone played at the highest level of performance

This region had the highest performing branches in the world. They went from a non-performing region to the top-performing region over a three-year period. This was based on a leadership focus to build success, keep and attract good talent, mitigate annoyances and system problems, build strong internal teamwork between sales and operations, provide others with a professional growth path and opportunity by achieving the numbers, and client satisfaction that created a strong cycle of growth and success for every branch and every role.

This is just one of the hundreds of situations and styles I encountered when I was working for others and it is one of the thousands of situations I have encountered since I have been training and coaching leaders. From this experience, there are some salient points that hold true in most situations:

  • People like to be treated with trust, respect, support, open communication, and collaboration
  • People accomplish amazing success when they are included, empowered, and treated as a valued partner to achieve the goals
  • Vision makes a difference
  • Being human as a leader, enjoying what you do, and working with others is felt by others
  • Emotional maturity expands the thinking of others

Which would you like to work for – the “Let’s Hit the Metrics” style or the “Let’s Build Success for All” style?

It’s interesting — over time, the story does not change too much. It is not always easy to lead because the dynamics are constantly shifting and may be challenging to read. With that said, if you truly enjoy helping others achieve uncommon results, it is a never-ending challenge and a fulfilling and fun journey.