While evaluating my most successful workplace transformation client projects in preparation for my newest seminar on employee engagement, I made a discovery.
I’m sure other thought leaders have already come to this place but for me it was quite a revelation and those in the workshop found it of tremendous value in evaluating their leadership styles and the work environment it has created.
What I discovered is that two diametrically opposed leadership styles, lead to very similar and very negative, toxic, non-productive workplace cultures.
Let’s take a deeper look:
Leadership Style 1: Command and Control
This leadership style is one in which the leader rules with an iron hand with a very structured workenvironment in which employees need to do things according to specific guidelines. Here is a list of characteristics of the command and control leader:
- Demanding standards
- Unrealistic expectations
- Offers an open door with a closed mind
- Rarely accepts feedback
- Rarely accepts others’ ideas
- Micro-manager, too much accountability and too little trust
- Feedback mostly/always critical
- Little praise & rewards
- Gives impression (via communication style) that efforts/results “never good enough”
- Behavior/performance standards applied inconsistently
- Defensive when challenged
- Mistakes not tolerated
- Places blame vs. solution focused
- Reacts harshly to bad news
- Often communicates with inappropriate tone and body language
This leadership style is one in which the leader takes a laissez-faire, hands off approach that offers an unstructured work environment in which employees need to figure things out on their own. Here is a list of characteristics of the avoid and let go leader:
- Unclear standards
- Unclear expectations
- Offers an open door, listens to ideas but fails to act on them
- Gives lip service to other’s ideas
- People pleaser
- Defensive when challenged
- Often asks for other’s ideas, tries to be inclusive but little follow through and often does their own thing anyway
- Too much trust, not enough accountability
- Wants improvement but doesn’t implement accountability, feedback & development systems
- Sometimes plays favorites, different rules for different people without justification by performance/position
- Avoids/Ignores addressing behavior/performance issues
- Behaviors/performance standards applied inconsistently
- Let’s things go “until” exploding with inappropriate tone & body language
I’ve had the challenge of working with both types of leaders and the work environments created by each style.
The amazing realization in evaluating these projects is that both leadership styles, as different as they are create the same negative, toxic workplace cultures.
Below you will read the type of workplace culture that manifests from both the “command and control” as well as the “avoid and let go” leadership styles.
In these workplace cultures, employees:
- Have feelings of fear, insecurity & uncertainty, permeate work environment
- Create bureaucracy & information control systems to create “job security”
- Are mostly just task oriented
- Do the minimum; rarely go the “extra mile,” on their own
- Need constant reminding, oversight to get tasks done and meet deadlines
- Will not make decisions or try to solve problems
- Have a “Not my job” attitude
- See things as “us vs. them”/“win/lose”/zero sum
- Throw their co-workers “under the bus”- look for ways to lift themselves up by putting others down
- Are compliant with job requirements, but little creativity, innovation & contribution
- Absenteeism / turnover high
- BMW present (bitching, moaning and whining)
- CYA – Cover You A!#@# attitudes
If any of those characteristics are present in your work environment it may be worth a conversation to discuss which leadership style is causing the challenge, click here to schedule your private, 1:1 Leadership Communication Strategy Session .
If you have noticed a similar experience in your work environment with one or more of the two leadership styles I outlined above, please leave a comment below and add to the discussion.
In my next post I’ll be writing about what I call “The Goldilocks” approach to leadership so that organizational leaders can create that “just right” workplace culture.
’til then, make it a great week!