The world is a different place. Business motivations, trends, and economic models have shifted since the digital boom of the 1980s. With that shift came a different perspective on how companies did business, from the products they produced and marketed to the internal management systems in place.
Where management used to be hierarchical, dictatorial reality predicated on tenure and sometimes nepotism, now managing people requires a different approach to be effective. The distinction is clear: managers have subordinates whereas leaders, typically those with organizational leadership degrees, have followers. That difference is intrinsically felt in the work environment and impacts the productivity of businesses as a whole.
Leadership styles have opened themselves to three different types:
The traditional autocratic leader is still in place and the practice is indeed useful in some situations. These leaders tell their staff what they expect of them, how to complete a task, and when they want the task finalized. The employees don’t have any input in the decision making process. The result of this management style is that employees are not as creative in problem solving and innovation. When only one person sets the course and/or makes decisions, the same line of thought is evident throughout. Managers who utilize this style must be careful; it is common for them to be considered controlling.
Leaders who practice this leadership style allow for a collaborative approach to business solutions. Employees are motivated to work on projects because they feel their contribution matters. Maintaining the final say in the business decision, managers who employ this leadership style find their employees function as a cohesive unit, playing off each other’s ideas and innovating new through tracks. The manager actively participates as well, offering ideas and guidance along the way. This allows for a natural camaraderie that doesn’t exist with the other leadership styles. This is an effective style because of the creativity team members are able to exhibit.
Leaders who delegate leave decision making entirely up to the employees offering little guidance concerning the project at hand. Employees may view this hands-off style as disconcerting, especially when they are not subject matter experts. Alienation and feelings of distrust can form in work environments led in this manner if sufficient guidance is not offered.
The marketplace continues to flourish with new products and innovations. Managers are increasingly challenged with new obstacles, such as managing virtual teams and leveraging multiple platforms for marketing, advertising, research, and internal communications. Working with personnel with these variables in mind comes with its unique attributes, requiring managers to be versatile jacks-of-all-trades to remain relevant.
Study in the field of management is imperative in today’s business climate. It isn’t enough to know the industry within which you are employed. The days of working your way up the ladder to manage effectively without formal training are quickly falling by the wayside. Academic paths such as Organizational Leadership prepare candidates for upward mobility in their field of choice. Allowing the student time to hone an individual style without managing staff at the same time is an invaluable opportunity.
Leadership is different now than it was before. And that can be a good thing for everyone involved.
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