If you’re looking to move up in your career, one of the questions you’ll get is what your management style is. And if you’ve never managed people, you may not even know!
The first thing I always tell people is to remember that control is not leadership. I once got called to the carpet for doodling during a staff meeting, even though I provided solid evidence that doodling is good for concentration. In this instance, my particular manager was clearly more invested in controlling me than in managing me, so I stopped doodling and I stopped paying attention in meetings—presumably not what my manager actually wanted! That’s the real danger of confusing the two: that by exerting unnecessary control over someone, you will actually cause that person to shut down. In fact, I left that job altogether because of that manager, and as far as I can tell, they haven’t replaced me, years later.
Whether you’re new to managing people or not, it can sometimes be hard to define your style without sounding trite. Here’s a good overview of management styles so you don’t wind up saying something untrue or meaningless.
It’s important to be able to name and truly own your leadership style. One reason, of course, is that you may be asked about it when you’re in the running for a promotion. But it’s also important so you know things like where your weaknesses are and how your team members may respond differently, depending on who they are. It also allows you to build on your emotional intelligence so you can continue to grow as a leader. Finally, knowing your style—and its strengths and weaknesses—will help you adapt as your organization changes, ensuring your team is sheltered from the biggest challenges, and is able to continue being effective even in the face of change.