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Choosing an Appropriate Leadership Style

Transitioning into the role of managing technical professionals means your relationship with individuals who were previously your peers will change. As you transition into the role and develop new relationships with them, you’ll need to think about how you’ll lead these individuals and others who join your team. In other words, you need to choose a leadership style.

To achieve goals as a manager, you need to use a leadership style suited to your circumstances.

Leadership styles

You may think it’s best to stick to one leadership style so you’re consistent and so employees know what to expect from you. However, a leadership style that’s appropriate in one situation may be ineffective — or even offend employees — in another. So it’s important to vary your style according to the context.

For example, sometimes it’s best just to tell people what to do so that an urgent task can be completed. In other cases, this can prevent innovation and lead to resentment.

It’s common to label managers as having one particular style — for instance, as autocrats or facilitators. But to be really effective as a manager, you need to adjust the way you lead team members based on a variety of circumstances.

Consider an event like a sudden loss of data at a critical moment or even an accident that could endanger people’s safety. Would it make sense to gather everyone together and to debate what course of action to take? Probably not. It would be quicker and more efficient simply to direct team members what to do — and it’s likely they’ll understand the need for this approach.

But imagine introducing a completely new process that would affect the way everyone in the team completed their work. Just telling people what to do is likely to lead to resistance and feelings of frustration from the team.

Being able to use different leadership styles — and knowing when to do this — has two main benefits. You’ll be a more effective manager because you’ll know how to adapt your behavior to get the best results in different situations. And you’ll have a broader skillset at your disposal for supervising and working with employees.

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