There is no ONE right way to lead; effective leaders often ‘flex’ their style to suit varying circumstances. However, one conundrum most leaders find themselves in is whether they should be more of a “controlling leader” or a “coaching leader.”
When working for operational efficiency in a well-defined environment, a “controlling leader” approach can work. But as things speed up and become more complex, it’s imperative that leaders balance this more traditional approach with greater coaching skills. It’s not that being “controlling” is bad and “coaching” is good. It is much more complex than that. Both have their place and are needed.
Being conscious and more intentional in the choices we make regarding our leadership approach is the first step to applying our intended approach more often. To increase your awareness and assist you in identifying whether and when you are controlling vs. coaching, here are few questions you might ask yourself:
1. Would my associates describe me as directive or inspiring?
2. Would my people say I think and often DO know best or that I facilitate and encourage their expertise?
3. Do my people hear me as giving directions and orders or do they hear me asking questions and soliciting suggestions?
4. Would people describe me as having a strong sense of purpose and direction or having a clear vision and communicating it?
5. Do I check up and monitor or do I trust and delegate?
6. Would my people call me instructive or empowering?
7. Do I encourage, promote, and reward activity, action, and work OR ideas, innovation, and fun?
8. Am I building a team that can execute policy and implement plans or one that creates and innovates?
9. Would those who report to me call themselves subordinates or colleagues?
10. Do I seek to minimize risk and avoid failure at all costs OR do I take calculated risks and am comfortable with failure?