Management Degrees: What’s Your Style?
After learning about various leadership styles and methods in your coursework, you will finally get a chance to utilize your knowledge in the workplace. Now comes the hard part, deciding which style works best for you and your work environment. Is it better to lead by example or delegate your authority? Should you roll up your sleeves and jump into the trenches or tell someone what you want done and hope it is accomplished properly and in a timely manner? Combining the ability to lead by example, while at the same time delegating your authority, can be one of the most difficult balancing acts in management to achieve.
Leading by Example
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” then leading by example is the exact opposite of that. Leading by example requires you to have knowledge and understanding of the jobs and duties of those you manage. To lead by example, you must also show others that you are willing and able to practice what you preach and adhere to the guidelines and rules set forth in your company policies just as line level employees would be expected to. Leading by example may sound easy, but you’ll be surprised how many managers hold their employees to one set of standards while not adhering to those rules and policies themselves.
Leading by example has many benefits. This leadership style shows that you know job requirements just as well, if not better than those who work for you. It also inspires confidence among your employees that you know what you’re doing and that your advice and leadership is reliable and will steer them in the right direction in their work. Setting the example also shows that you’ve paid your dues, and not only have the education to talk the talk, but the skills to walk the walk. This leadership style will often build respect among your team members and increase their willingness to follow you ‘into battle’ when times are tough. View a complete list of schools that offer leadership degrees online.
In some ways, delegating is similar to leading by example, but it is also quite different. Delegating is the ability to use the clear understanding of jobs and job duties properly to assign roles to those who would perform them best. Therefore, like leading by example, a clear understanding of your employees’ jobs and job functions is necessary to maintain this management style. However, unlike leading by example, delegating doesn’t always require the manager fully to be able to do all the duties he is assigning. Instead, he must simply know which people would be the best to fulfill those duties. This isn’t to say that those who delegate well aren’t ‘doers’. Many times the environment in which they work might not allow them to be in the trenches with their employees.
One of the greatest benefits to delegating is that when duties are assigned to multiple people under a manager’s control, the manager himself has more time to focus on the big picture. A manager’s job description might not leave enough time to complete every duty required in his scope of supervision. Delegating also allows a manager to determine the best employee for a particular job or task, thereby often saving a company on labor and other expenses.
The problem with delegating is that it can become a habit. Some managers become so accustomed to delegating that it seems they forget how to do the simplest of tasks. This can breed contempt among team members and employees, and make the manager appear lazy, inconsiderate, and unknowledgeable.
A Balanced Combination
Typically, the sign of a truly effective manager is the ability properly to combine these two management styles in a balance that best meets their work environment and job duties. Showing your employees that you are willing and able to lead by example, but at the same time not loose yourself in menial and time-consuming activities, is a delicate balancing act. Often this act will vary and change depending on the number of employees being managed and the size of the organization in which you work. In many cases, smaller work environments call for more hands on interaction and breed a more ‘lead by example’ type atmosphere, while larger organizations might call for more delegation and a more hands off approach.
While most organizations and management positions are different, a skillful approach to management often requires a manager that leads with more than one management approach. By using your management education, you may be better able to balance leading by example, in which you can effectively prove your skills and abilities to your team members, while also utilizing proper delegation skills which can allow you to make the most efficient use of your time, resources, and staff.