Learn to Become a Less Autocratic Manager
“… trying to run a seasoned, highly skilled group with the traditional type-A, command-and-control style is doomed to fail. Today’s knowledge workers demand what leadership experts call a ‘post-heroic leader’: one who is emotionally and intellectually agile, able to modulate their style as needed from authoritative to collaborative—and back again—in order to optimize team performance. Post-heroic leaders recognize that the key to success is not adhering to hierarchy or position power …
From self-awareness to social awareness. This shift occurs when a manager realizes that effective leadership calls for more than just knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses. Social awareness calls for a heightened sensitivity to how one’s behavior, in words and deeds, impacts others. To help build this awareness, Mark’s coach asked him questions like:
- What is the impact of your management style on others?
- How do you know what others are thinking or feeling?
From directive to inquisitive. When seeking to improve processes or engender creativity from an expert group, the manager needs to shift from a stance of declaration to one of curiosity. Questions that help managers make this shift include:
- How much time do you spend listening rather than speaking?
- How do you know if you are truly listening to your people?
From power over to power with. When a manager lauds authority over subordinates, A-players tend to shut down (and look for the exit), while B-players tend to acquiesce, hide out, and fail to grow. As a result, the potential of the entire team is lost. To facilitate this important shift, a coach might ask:
- How do you stimulate the best thinking from your team?
- What is the role of your subordinates in making decisions?
From teamwork to teaming. Traditional managers tend to rely on static definitions of who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out,’ fostering a culture of conformity and internal competitiveness. Adaptive managers evoke commitment through common values and aspirational goals, not structure. Good coaching questions include:
- How do you create a sense of belonging when the boundaries of a team are porous?
- How do you leverage diverse talents, skills, and perspectives, getting the best from everyone?”