This is a guest post by Brooke Cade.
It’s easy to assume that a successful company will continue to be successful so long as the product or service is good and the employees work hard. However, bad leadership, or even incompatible leadership styles, can stifle growth, decrease employee retention, hurt productivity, and even impact the customer experience.
In order to thrive, companies require good leadership. However, it is a mistake to assume that all good leaders operate exactly the same. What may be right in one situation could be horrible for another.
The right leadership style for an organization relies on several different factors such as the company culture and mission, the individuals leading the company, the employees, the target customers, etc.
Beyond that, different situations within the same company may require different leadership styles. Instead of focusing on the mythical “perfect” leader, it’s important to identify what leadership styles work best for your organization. These 3 leadership styles are commonly found in today’s business climate and can offer a good jumping-off point for finding the right leadership style that works for you.
This style of leadership places all control and power on one primary leader. Input from lower-level employees is not welcome unless an employee is specifically asked to provide it. Authoritative leadership requires all employees to strictly follow the direction and instructions of the leader.
The authoritarian leader will quickly discover that this style comes with several drawbacks. First, it can squash innovation if employees are not given a space to contribute their ideas and experiences. Second, it can involve micromanagement, which can lead to higher levels of stress throughout the organization. This can also result in lower employee loyalty and retention rates which will lead to decreased productivity.
At the end of the day, this can also impact your customer’s experience with your company. Stressed employees make more mistakes, and customer-facing employees may have less patience when interacting with your customers.
There are certain organizations and circumstances where the authoritarian is a helpful, appropriate leader. For examples, some organizations, like the military, require exact obedience in order to function and even save lives.
Authoritarian leadership may be appropriate, as a temporary measure, in certain situations as well. For example, during periods of significant change or when operating under a time crunch, a heavy-handed leadership style can provide the extra guidance needed to make the transition. It can also be effective in emergency situations where employees need a single voice of command to follow.
The hands-off leader takes a laissez-faire approach to leadership. In this style, employees are largely left to their own devices to perform their jobs. This involves very little instruction or set boundaries.
Unfortunately, employees may feel aimless, confused, or frustrated if they are not given sufficient guidance. This lack of communication, direction, and feedback can be particularly taxing for teams or organizations that go through frequent changes or regularly gain new employees.
This leadership style can also bleed into the customer experience strategy. If your employees aren’t always sure of how to approach their jobs, that may lead to a more vague customer experience as well.
However, this hands-off approach may be appropriate in certain situations or organizations. If your team’s work is highly creative or if each employee has a lot of experience in their current position, they may thrive with such limited intervention. If you choose to take a hands-off approach, be sure to set basic expectations and standards from the beginning. You should also make sure to create some performance measurement system in order to avoid lulls in efficiency.
The diplomat practices leadership through democracy. Employees are encouraged to share feedback, ideas, and concerns all with the aim of improving the team, product/service, and company. Its balanced approach of providing both structure and freedom often makes it an effective choice for everyday leadership.
Some of the potential problems of taking a diplomatic approach appear when operating under a tight deadline. When everybody has a chance to include their input and to discuss all ideas, the process can become very time-consuming. Consistently missed deadlines can have ripple effects throughout the organization and can even end up affecting the consumer experience.
Anything designed by committee comes with the risk of over-complication. When you try to make sure that everyone is happy, too often you create a complicated mess that leaves no one happy.
If diplomatic leadership is your preferred style, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, leaders, regardless of style, need to be willing to make a final decision. Without an ultimate decision maker, important projects can take too long or get derailed as they are designed by committee. The best diplomatic leaders are able to gather feedback and ideas and use that information to make an informed decision.
Second, diplomatic leaders need to create a structure that allows the democratic process to flourish and get results which are aligned with your brand’s values. There is a fine line between democracy and mob rule. Effective diplomatic leaders hold structured meetings with defined practices and boundaries in order to facilitate efficient communication.
The best leaders know how to provide the guidance and support their team needs through the appropriate leadership style for their organization and situation. Communication lies at the heart of any effective form of leadership.
After finding which style works for you, there are several ways to refine that style to better meet the needs of your company. Attending a conference on best practices or leadership can prove helpful. A customer experience management platform can provide the tools you need to improve communication between both your customers and your employees. When you’re able to bridge that gap and see how your employees and customers affect each other, you can make the necessary changes to find greater success for your organization.
Author Bio: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer who’s committed to helping businesses and sales professionals build stronger connections with their customers. She writes for multiple publications including InMoment. In her spare time, she enjoys learning more about CX, reading, and engaging on Twitter.