Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pitfalls of Directive Leadership by Gennady Barsky

Lately it seems like everyone is on the buddy system. Offices are becoming more “organic” and “open” leading to management styles that are inclusive, encouraging and focused on recruiting and developing talent. All of these are worthy goals, and often having the best talent means knowing when to get out of their way and let them work. But no matter how successful more democratic management styles can be, some managers still believe that Drill Instructor micromanagement is the way to Get Things Done.

This sort of management style is called “Directive Leadership.” It’s absolutely true that Directive Management can, indeed, help get things done, but that task completion – I won’t call it success – comes with some major pitfalls.

First, the Directive Manager must be everywhere at once. Because one of the tenets of Directive Leadership is ordering each individual member of the team around from one task to the next, the Directive Leader runs the risk of almost immediate burnout. Worse, your employees will acclimate to your constant order-barking shadow. Eventually, they will stop making decisions altogether, choosing instead to wait for instruction. If you have already established guidelines and expectations but still have to babysit your people…you probably have the wrong people in those jobs. But if your overbearing leadership style has forced or encouraged your people to turn off their brains, that lack of production or quality is all your fault.

Aggressively directed teams become more worried about the consequences of failure to meet expectations than they are motivated to achieve established goals. Even the most talented people can quickly succumb to frustration and apathy when the result of any independent decision could mean the wrath of the boss. That apathy can quickly shift their focus from achieving success to avoiding consequences.

Eventually, initiative will dissipate altogether. Your productivity will be exclusively dependent on your direct involvement. The dirty little secret here is that, for some Directive Leaders, this offers a feeling of power and superiority. These self-congratulatory idiots begin to believe they are so smart-fast-innovative that they Must Do Everything On My Own. Instead of leveraging the skills and experience of their team, they set themselves up for failure all under the guise of feeding an already inflated ego.

Bottom line…unless you are managing a team of stoned high schoolers flipping burgers and dropping fries, you may want to ease up on the micromanagement and work out a management approach that can help you and your team achieve long-term success.

Gennady Barsky is the CFO of JetSmarter and Real Estate Mogul. Barsky is a lover of all things automobile and has a passion for Social Media.

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