What's Your Manager's Leadership Style?

manager leadership style

Your daily interactions with your manager inevitably shape your attitude to work, as well as your professional ambitions and the pace at which your career advances. Your experiences and perceptions can be positive or negative, depending on how well you and your boss get along.

Leadership styles – and how you react to them – can play a large part in your working relationships. To help you understand your manager’s leadership style, here are the four main types of leaders, along with some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re working with them.

The definitive leader

The definitive leader makes difficult decisions quickly and confidently. This leader cuts to the chase and tends not to engage in small talk. Expect this leader to take charge, even under pressure or deadlines, and to set high standards for the team. This leader focuses more on results than pleasantries and can sometimes come across as impersonal or demanding. When working with this type of leader:

  • Keep communication brief and to the point.
  • Align your priorities and efforts with the goals your manager is held accountable to achieving.
  • Take risks and share your ideas confidently.
  • Don’t object if, midway through a project, your manager changes his mind about the best approach.
  • Don’t take it personally if the boss doesn’t ask about your thoughts or concerns.
  • Don't try to please this leader by committing to goals you know you can’t achieve.

The collaborative leader

The collaborative leader avoids telling others what to do and instead tries to help individuals find their own path. This leader has excellent listening skills and shares opinions only when asked. Bosses with this leadership style shine when organizing processes after roles have been clearly defined and agreed upon. When working with this type of leader:

  • Deliver results consistently and communicate often about your progress.
  • Cooperate with team members and form partnerships.
  • Remain positive under pressure.
  • Don’t disregard existing processes just to get things done.
  • Don’t pressure your manager to make decisions without providing facts and multiple options.
  • Don’t pass judgment on others’ ideas without considering all options.

The persuasive leader

The persuasive leader inspires employees to achieve more than they thought they were capable of and always comes up with creative ideas. This leader typically relates well to people and has a wide range of contacts. This individual tends to be great at inspiring the team, but also may sometimes take on more projects than is practical. When working with this type of leader:

  • Think creatively when working on new ideas or problem solving.
  • Share your opinions and relate them to the big picture.
  • Seek to collaborate with others and use all resources available to achieve results.
  • Don’t give too many details when explaining things – you will bore this leader.
  • Don’t hide your career aspirations – this type wants to help you achieve them.
  • Don’t expect to have your hand held during projects.

The diagnostic leader

The diagnostic leader is a steady leader who thinks systematically and has a keen eye for detail. This leader is skilled at avoiding mistakes, duplications and redundancies and is known for the ability to ensure that everything is working at 100 percent capacity. Overall, this leader favors predictable, organized approaches and dislikes surprises. That’s why it’s best to give this manager as much lead time as possible when proposing changes. When working with this type of leader:

  • Manage your time efficiently.
  • Accomplish what you say you will – no excuses.
  • Provide detailed information to support your decision-making.
  • Don’t make snap decisions just to meet a deadline or please someone else
  • Don’t chit-chat too much about personal opinions when presenting ideas or giving status updates.
  • Don’t develop only one solution – present several possible outcomes for your manager’s consideration.

Whatever style your leader practices, there are ways to work alongside them successfully. Make sure you take the time to understand your manager and how you can make the most out of their style. The results may surprise you.

This post was adapted from “What's your manager's leadership style?” which originally appeared on Robert Half Australia's Work Life blog.

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