Leadership style to motivate - part 1

January 21, 2020

As a software architect at Umbrella, I’m part of a team that supports a number of teams across several business units and geographical locations. Every team I work with is different from the others, has its own area of expertise for which it is accountable for, has its own peculiar workflow while team members have different backgrounds and knowledge. By applying an authoritarian leadership style, my team could control the chaos created by this diversity and avoid any kind of confusion. This could be achieved by creating an extensive and complete documentation that explains everybody involved how things have to be done. Once this full documentation is ready, we simply tell these teams that this is the way we ask them to work and line managers just double check their subordinates follow the guidelines.

Before deciding if the above way of leading is the best, we have to consider that architects’ role is to foster innovation and Umbrella needs a leadership that positively influences employees’ creativity. A leadership that stimulates followers to be creative, innovative and challenges their own beliefs and values. This leadership has to support followers while they try new approaches and develop innovative ways of solving present issues. A style that encourages followers to think things out on their own and engage them in careful problem solving (Northouse, 2013). Head of communication in Umbrella: “We explore tomorrow’s ideas and test how they can be applied into real life products. We constantly seek to innovate and find new ways forward as only then can we develop what is not yet here”. Umbrella’s competitive advantage and future itself depends on the leadership that supports and encourages innovation and creativity.

It is not just about innovation and creativity. Strong values, culture and people are Umbrella’s strengths. However, as it grows, the company needs to protect its culture and ensure it encompasses the entire business. The ability to take care of its culture will allow Umbrella to retain employees today and attract the best talents tomorrow. The simplest explanation of how leaders get their message across is that they do it through charisma - that mysterious ability to capture the subordinates’ attention and to communicate major assumptions and values in a vivid and clear manner (Bennis & Nanus, 1985).

At the same time running a compliant business is very important for Umbrella’s success. Failure to do so could cause losing one or more licenses, which would result in profit reduction and share price’s drop. This threat can be prevented with an appropriate leadership style that includes coaching and strong influence. Coaching helps in skills development and therefore personal growth. Selling and influencing others, on the other hand, could fit into any of the behavior dimensions depending on what content is being sold, and what tactics are used for influence (Spain, 2019). Using these two approaches to leadership, managers in Umbrella can turn compliance into a competitive advantage by offering better products and pushing competitors out of the markets. At this point I think that applying an authoritarian leadership style is a way of micromanaging people’s work that would be the recipe for disaster, impossible to realize and a kind of leadership against Umbrella’s values and goals. Given the nature of their job teams are asked to complete a high number

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Written by Claudio Maccari . Passionate developer and former windsurfer. You can read more about me here