Do you manage your team with a strong hand, controlling the details with precision and strength? Or, do you tend to maintain loose boundaries and let your team members take charge of their destiny more?
Is it really one or the other?
Old school leadership is all about control. Define the goals, set the rules, then rule with an iron fist. Let them know who's boss and never let them forget it.
Slowly, and with great reluctance, that gave way to a newer school of thought - more participative leadership involving dignified treatment of team members (oh yes, they became more like team members than employees) and shared leadership. Used skillfully, it results in a more engaged workforce. Used carelessly, it results in chaos and unsatisfactory results.
As is so often the case, it's not one or the other. As leaders we must have the strength to make decisions. We set the standards. We model the behaviors we are seeking. And we provide guidance for those who need it (hint - at one time or another we all need guidance).
We must also be flexible. Our boundaries are clear and yet permeable. Our guidance is direct and yet gentle. Our rules are reached with collaborative energy and creativity.
Where are we now? Centered, high performance leaders realize that it's not that easy. Some people need our best strength and firm boundaries. Others are ready for freedom, and yet also need clarity of purpose. Seeking balance, seeking flexibility as leaders we are bound to make mistakes. Redirecting ourselves (and others) back away from those mistakes and toward the goals we want to achieve is where the science of management meets the art of leadership. It's not one or the other. We build a bigger team circle and adjust as we go.
We need boundaries, but not chains.
High performance leaders recognize the difference.
-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success
doug smith training: how to achieve your goals