Why Leadership Styles are Strictly a Business Decision

Much has been said and attended to over the past years about employee health in the workplace. Fewer people smoke and more people exercise. But to my ear in many conversations I am part of in my public seminars around the world, companies still put up with bad bosses, bad leaders.

To my thinking, leaders are responsible for improving the performance of organizations. Two significant components of the implementation of their decisions are the quality of their decision AND the level of buy-in associated with the decisions.

Effective leaders want them both. A good decision without buy in is a car without an engine, a boat without a sail. Good buy-in without a good decision is, well, you can imagine just the engine or the sail all alone. In either case, it’s the combination of these two factors that optimizes the leader’s influence.

I describe this leadership style as Collaborator. I define collaboration as a person or teams ability to build both an effective decision AND buy-in. It is this combination of both better decisions and better support that provides team decisions that generate significant business impact.

While there are often many other leadership behavior alternatives at play, the three behavior options/leadership style choices I consider include:

Accommodators are just in it for the fun of being together with others. When it’s time to make a decision they say ” Whatever you say, I’m just glad to help in any way.” Driven by a need for social affirmation. “I just want to be liked….”

The Competers would rather do all this themselves. Their mantra is “My way or the highway”. Stop signs are for other people. Competers often have good ideas but when they’re railroaded through teams, the lack of support, or resistance, minimizes or eliminates the benefit. The competer wants to win.

The Collaborators are the leaders who’s good at assembling team members who have something to contribute to building good decisions, AND work with the teams in such an interactive way they the team members both contribute AND buy-in to the decision. This takes advantage of the wonderful principle: people support what they help create. The collaborator wants the best idea to win.

To be sure, all three options may have their place depending on circumstances. For example, a leader may not have the time to collaborate and would need to defer to the Competer role. A leader may not address an issue that’s their responsibility and would need to defer to the Avoider role.

Short of collaboration, in many cases, competing leaders may be seen as rainmakers in organizations, but private hallway conversations speak of the dysfunction on this leader’s team, and it’s negative effect on the rest of the organization. Accommodating leaders, on the other hand, generate a different, quieter sort of stress. Stress from boredom and lack of accomplishment. In both cases, you can be sure the stress that these leaders generate in their teams not only affects their teams and organization, but also the families these employees go home to and “talk about the day”.

In most situations, our goal, collaborating, is different. Collaborating is all about learning a better way with a group. With these folks, when they have two options, they’ve learned the best is always the third.

Collaborating is a key business communication strategy to both improve and innovate.

Settling for less than collaboration is a business decision, and often not a very good one.

A key takeaway from an article like this is you, as a leader, have a choice. And your choice depends on how you think about leading. Who leads and contributes to the decision making process? Who gets to win?