How Learning Your Management Style Can Transform Your Career
Are you an energizer, harmonizer, or forecaster? Are you more democratic or autocratic?
Whatever your management style, and whatever it says about how you lead others, it’s something you should know if you want to be successful long-term.
If you have no idea what your management style is (or even how to get one), you’re probably not alone: according to West Monroe Partners, 59 percent of those recently polled said they received no management training at all on their way up.
A major part of learning how to make others better (the most important part of being a manager at any company) is understanding your style of management and learning to use it effectively—but how can you do that when you may not have even known you have a distinct style in the first place?
Let’s start with figuring out your current management style. Then we will take a look at how this knowledge can help you improve yourself and others around you.
What’s my management style?
There are countless tests online (like this one) that will give you an idea of how you relate to your reports—and they all use different terms and descriptions. Maybe you’re a Diplomat, or maybe you’re a Planner, or something else entirely that means the same thing as those two.
Don’t overthink this part: Find a site you trust and figure out which of your defining characteristics (overbearing or relaxed? Collaborative or individual?) make it into your everyday professional life. The way you relate to coworkers and direct reports may be different from how you relate to friends and family.
Once you have a sense of your style and/or auxiliary styles (we are rarely the same type of manager day-in and day-out), here’s what this information can do for you:
1) Knowing your style is part of your pitch
When you interview for a management position, having a firm grasp of how you relate, or can relate, to your future employees is a major part of showing your future employer you know what you’re doing.
Being able to verbalize and explain what you think a good manager is, how you add your unique spin to it, and examples of how that has translated into success for you in the past will be a major asset in any interview.
2) You’ll know how to adapt
If you discussed your management style in your interview before coming aboard a company, they likely consider you a good fit for the business they’re trying to grow.
There are times, however, when you’ll have to adjust how you relate to your reports on the fly. Some teams need more direct oversight, while others are accustomed to working best when they’re left to their own devices.
Understanding how you operate can help you recognize how to tweak your style to retrofit an already productive team or re-engage an underperforming employee. This is integral to being a successful manager. Good managers can blend a variety of styles depending on the situation, project, time of year, employee needs, and other factors.
3) You can address your weaknesses
Nobody is perfect (we hope this doesn’t come as a shock). Every manager and leader has blind spots or factors they overlook in favor of their strengths.
For example, you could be an “Energizer,” meaning you’re amiable, courageous, determined, and able to build the enthusiasm of those around you. That all sounds great.
But you may also have issues encouraging dissent, being patient, or recognizing differences in others. See how an excited, charismatic leader can also be seen as a steamroller?
Don’t turn people off with your weaknesses. Instead, be aware of them and actively work to improve.
4) You’ll learn how to engage your employees
Engagement is one of the biggest buzzwords in the world of work today, and for good reason: Disengaged employees are not only more likely to leave, but they can cost their company (and the economy overall) dearly.
Your management style has a direct impact on how engaged your employees are. If they feel comfortable coming to you with questions, concerns, suggestions, or ideas, they’ll be more likely to feel engaged and more likely to stick around. If they are worried about being overruled, mocked, dismissed, or disregarded, they’ll slowly but surely shut down.
Not only is that a loss for them and for the company, but it will reflect poorly on you and prevent you from achieving your own goals.
5) You won’t be reliant on fads
If you know your management style and what tools and practices have worked for you in the past, you won’t feel compelled to keep up with every management trend you hear about on your favorite podcast or read about online. Instead, you can use what has worked for you in the past and incorporate new strategies into employee handbooks and guidelines as you discover truly valuable insights (rather than fleeting buzzwords). Your management style should stand the test of time, coming naturally to you.
By discovering your own personal management style, you can move forward with greater confidence, flexibility, and self-awareness―all of which will help you become a more effective manager.
Great managers use great performance management. Check out the Definitive Guide to Performance Management now.
Eric Goldschein is a freelance journalist and content creator who covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, emerging technologies, culture, and travel. He has written for Deloitte, Business Insider, HuffPo, and more.