Knowing what type of leadership style works best for you can be key to finding the right company.
Workplace culture. Two words used a great deal these days in talking about business, but what does that really mean? Almost every site dedicated to jobseekers and business leadership talks about climate, about finding candidates who are a “fit,” but where does the culture start – and how is it impacted by leadership styles?
There's a lot of discussion about how the increase in remote work opportunities, as well as the influx of millennials, is changing the workplace dynamic. Of course, with so many people out of work, feeling comfortable within your office environment may seem like a luxury. However, it's critical to understanding why some interviews go better than others and also to appreciating the unspoken piece of who gets the job.
Consider the following case of two managers. We will call these leaders B and R for our purposes.
B operates on a top-down philosophy. B is in charge and everyone must go through the hierarchy to get things done. Everything is efficient; time isn't wasted on brainstorming because B drives ideas and those ideas are filtered down through each level of management according to role. Many of B's staff likes working in this environment; they can focus on their roles and know that the rest is being managed. Unfortunately, some employees feel demeaned and devalued by this structure, because those starting out have to move through the ranks before truly being invited to contribute.
On the other hand, R will not make decisions without presenting them to the team first. R also holds daily conversations about everything. This is frequently done through email and R sends a lot of feedback surveys to gather responses before making choices that affect the whole office. Just as with B, many of R's employees enjoy this leadership style. They feel that they play a role in the company's success and they're motivated to go to work every day. On the other hand, some staff feel that they don't care to check email on Saturdays to answer short surveys, and they just want direction.
Assuming that everything else was the same and you were offered equitable positions with both B and R's companies, which would your choose? Is one leader a bad leader? That's up for debate. While some may prefer B's style of clear direction and the feeling that everyone works to reach the top, others like to be engaged from day one in driving organizational vision.
This exemplar is not only a clear indicator of preference when choosing a position, but it also serves to illustrate the impact a leader has on culture. Those working with B come in to the company and understand that work is rewarded through promotions, but that ideas and input are valued based on loyalty and previous evidence of results. Those who work for R are clearly aware that they are expected to contribute from the moment they are hired, but at the same time, the work-life balance will be different because R has established a workplace culture that is fluid and accessible at all times.
When searching for work, you may be asked what you value in a leader – and this is a great way for organizations to understand leadership style as well as preferences. However, this can also be turned on its head and you now have an opportunity to determine the company's culture based on what they declare the key traits of a leader are. Organizations rise and fall based on the vision at the top, but employees at all levels can help with that direction by ensuring that the climate is one that suits their personal style and goals as well.