How Effective is Your Leadership Style?

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Author: Bob Cryer

Executive Coaches of Orange County

Larry Tucker’s post on “When to Relate, When to Require” reminded me of my first managerial experience at Procter and Gamble. My division manager stopped by to congratulate me on the brilliant work that I and my team of young MBAs were doing for the company. Unfortunately, he went on to say that my managerial career in P&G was going nowhere. Half the people that worked for me had requested transfers, and virtually no one was willing to transfer into my high performing group. The issue was not performance. It was my leadership style.

P&G sent me to a week of training based on the book “The Managerial Grid” by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (Google “Blake and Mouton” for more information). They identified five styles of leadership based on a leader’s concern for production verses their concern for people. My leadership style was “Produce or Perish”. That was not what P&G was looking for, in spite of the results that I and my group were delivering for the company.

Blake and Mouton identified three other common leadership styles (Country Club Leadership, Impoverished Leadership and Middle-of-the-Road Leadership) that were also not particularly effective. It took me several years of training and disciplined practice to come close to becoming the High Performing Team Leader that Blake and Mouton also defined. After making that transition, my managerial career at P&G moved ahead at a pretty healthy rate.

The learning for me is that you have to be able to produce above average results in order to be promoted into management. But thereafter, it is typically your leadership style and skills that will determine how successful you will be as a manager. What has your managerial experience taught you?

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2 Responses to “How Effective is Your Leadership Style?”

  1. Bob Cryer says:

    Larry, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I agree that early in my managerial career, I was in danger of being overthrown because of my dictatorial style. My experience gradually taught me that some employees need a lot of structure in order to perform well, probably because they do not want to run much risk that their efforts will not be rewarded. Other employees want lots of freedom to excel, to do things their way, and take bigger risks in the hopes of bigger rewards. I think managers need to adjust their leadership style according to the needs and capabilities of each employee.

  2. Larry Leaman says:

    Your P & G experience is right-on. Command and control style of leadership works in a military type organization, and in a crisis where someone must take charge. But in the rest of the world a leader can only succeed by building a team, developing consensus, embracing a set of values and walking that talk (unlike many politicians). Your initial style of management sounds like a dictatorship based upon authority and fear. A good axiom to remember is that dictators tend to rule for a while, then they get overthrown and sometimes assassinated! I have seen careers assassinated , and by that I mean pretty well ended, by the overthrow of dictatorial organizational “leaders”. In the long run everyone suffers, including the ability of the organization itself to achieve its mission.