Back in the 1980s, after Harley-Davidson had staved off a total collapse, the company discovered it wasn’t out of the woods yet. From issues related to quality and unengaged employees, problems still plagued the business. Company leaders quickly learned that they would need to make changes to keep their recovery going, which meant changing some of the very things that had saved them from bankruptcy. This all started with changes to the company’s organizational management.
Under the leadership of president and COO Rich Teerlink and management consultant Lee Ozley, Harley-Davidson made systematic changes that would boost the company. The new organizational management model included several key steps intended to improve the culture and get workers more engaged.
These steps included:
- Getting input from each employee as to what their vision for the company was.
- Analyzing how far the company was from employees’ visions.
- Examining existing policies and strategies to see if they fit the company’s goals.
- Acknowledging the progress the team made.
These changes led to decades of success for Harley-Davidson. Teerlink showed how effective organizational management could be, giving other companies an example to follow for implementing important changes. However, that doesn’t always mean change is easy.
According to a study from Forbes, 31 percent of CEOs get fired for mismanaging change—and that’s just at the top of the organization. Mid-level managers can feel the pressure, as well.
Part of this is due to a lack of training in organizational management. Without that training, it’s no wonder that implementing change can become so challenging. In this article, learn how to navigate organizational management styles so you can drive impact and greater success in your business.
What Is Organizational Management?
Organizational management refers to the styles and strategies leaders use to plan and manage resources and people with a specific goal in mind. Those involved with organizational management create plans and follow through on them, measuring their progress as they do so. Managers and leaders will also make any necessary changes depending on the data, results, and responses they get while executing their plans.
How Does Organizational Management Affect a Business?
- Greater Adaptability: With better organizational management, companies can adapt to changing conditions much more quickly. Additionally, they can ensure that the changes they do make are more effective at reaching goals.
- Consistent Feedback: With proper business administration through organization and management, there are structures set up within the company to ensure employees receive regular feedback on their performance. This helps improve quality, enhance customer satisfaction, and support team members’ growth. At the same time, good business management of this type allows employees to submit feedback of their own.
- Clear Goals: Organizational change can be chaotic if done poorly. Effective management helps calm the waters by always sticking to clear goals that everyone knows. Organizational management allows for these goals to be communicated throughout the company, with everyone knowing their role in achieving those goals.
- More Loyalty and Dedication: Organization management through clear communication means people have a good idea of what they need to do. This can lead to a greater sense of loyalty to the company and improved dedication to the organization and its people. When people don’t know what they need to do, they can become frustrated and disinterested in doing their jobs, which can lead to a decline in employee retention.
- Better Resource Allocation: If done right, this style of management leads to an improvement in resource allocation. Workers and projects will get the resources they need to get the job done. Since everyone knows the goals they need to achieve, all efforts can be focused on what makes progress in the right direction.
7 Organizational Management Leadership Styles That Increase Performance
1. Democratic Leadership
“Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.”John C. Maxwell
The democratic leadership style embraces collaboration and consensus. This style makes everyone feel like they’re involved in making important decisions. As a democratic leader, you allow your team members to solve problems on their own by working together. You encourage people to respect each other and listen to new ideas. A democratic leader is someone who is not afraid to ask questions that gauge how a team member is feeling or what they’re thinking at any given moment.
Former Nike CEO Mark Parker was known for asking his employees a lot of questions. As Nike CFO Andy Campion described it, “What’s fascinating about his use of questions is that it leaves other leaders empowered to find the answers themselves and act on them.”
- Builds cohesion and cooperation among a team
- Encourages independence by giving team members more responsibility
- Increases engagement and commitment
- Grants more opportunities for people to show leadership skills
- Allows people to take ownership of their actions and practice accountability
- May lead to the same people getting their ideas rejected time and time again
- Leads to long deliberation and decision-making processes, which may hinder quick responses
- Can lead to more conflict due to disagreements
- Creates a system whereby team members can outright reject a leader’s vision
- May result in bad decisions when the majority isn’t well-informed
2. Transformational Leadership
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”Sam Walton
The transformational leadership style inspires others to do more by casting an ambitious vision they believe in. A transformational leader communicates that vision clearly, giving people a purpose or a cause that they want to fight for. Any organization and management style that promotes transformational leadership often does so with an eye for the greater good. They believe in lifting others and creating revolutionary changes.
A leader like Walt Disney is just one example of how transformational leaders can challenge the status quo. Disney inspired people and entire industries through his creative pursuits and innovative solutions to filmmaking. All of his work was grounded in a positive vision of what the future held.
- Can create real lasting change that benefits generations
- Inspires people to have more hope in the future during trying times
- Improves a worker’s well-being, as seen in one survey of 300 employees
- Forms a greater spirit of togetherness in a team
- Embraces growth and development for each individual
- Tends to ignore the finer details
- Has the potential to lead through emotional manipulation
- Can be difficult to hold a transformational leader accountable
- May lead to delays during the decision-making process
3. Servant Leadership
“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”J. Carla Northcutt
The key behind the servant leadership style is to lead by serving others. It creates a positive influence that helps others learn and grow while also taking care of their needs. For many people, servant leadership is the ultimate act of selflessness, where someone doesn’t care about their position or title, only that they’re helping someone else.
This style is what helped Cheryl Bachelder become successful as CEO of Popeyes. Part of how she exemplified servant leadership was by helping others become leaders as well. As she describes on her own website, the act of developing leaders lifts the soul and should not be confused with simple office work. When you take in the whole person, you’re acting as a servant leader.
- Emphasizes altruism
- Provides opportunities for teaching
- Leads to stronger teams and communities
- Develops more trust among team members
- Encourages emotional intelligence
- Requires sacrificing a lot of energy, often for no guaranteed financial gain
- Can become difficult to balance helping others and practicing self-care
- May lead to some people taking advantage of you
4. Coaching Leadership
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has to see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you’ve always known you could be.”Tom Landry
Coaching leadership goes hand-in-hand with improved organization and management. This leadership style also works well with situational leadership in that you work with individuals differently depending on their needs. You basically act as their mentor, providing guidance and growth opportunities. When leadership and management take on the role of a coach, they help each worker understand what position they play and how they contribute to achieving a goal.
Steve Jobs often acted like a coach as he led Apple. He held a firm belief in hiring the best people—A-team players—who would fill their roles with enthusiasm and expertise. Jobs was always there to lend a hand and offer guidance, essentially becoming the coach who told his players what he expected of them in order to win the game.
- Offers flexibility in how you approach leadership—either very hands-on or more relaxed
- Turns leadership into more of a teaching position
- Helps others reach their full potential
- Fosters close relationships that can last for years
- Makes others feel like they’re part of a united team
- Success becomes very dependent on the leader’s emotional intelligence
- Requires a great deal of flexibility in approach and style
- Results in strained relationships if the wrong coaching technique is used
5. Affiliative Leadership
“One who cannot live in harmony with others is regarded as an ignorant fool, even if he happens to be very learned in various matters.”Thiruvalluvar
Affiliative leadership tends to place a focus on ensuring all people work together through close relationships. A leader who uses this style will seek to solve all conflicts and create an environment where everyone can work in harmony with each other. You don’t just want people to see each other as coworkers—you want them to be friends and confidants.
Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of Zappos, put an emphasis on creating tight-knit teams through a strong company culture. As he put it, “Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” By treating everyone like family, he was able to cultivate excellent results.
- Creates a low-stress work environment
- Reduces conflicts among the team
- Produces a setting filled with positivity and optimism
- Leads to teams who feel close and supported
- Emphasizes caring about others
- Tends to delay or avoid making tough decisions
- May lead to performing short of expectations
- Sometimes results in people depending on the leader emotionally
- Can lose sight of goals
- Leads to avoiding criticism due to fear of hurting relationships
6. Laissez-Faire Leadership
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”George S. Patton
A laissez-faire leadership style is one that largely delegates responsibilities. It’s a hands-off approach that values the individual’s freedom to do their job however they see fit. If you were to practice this style, you may grant team members the power to set their own schedules or use whatever tools they want to get the job done. All that matters is that people reach their goals.
Warren Buffett has garnered a reputation for practicing this form of organizational management. He hires people for their talents and skills and gives them room to experiment, grow, and succeed. As he has said, “Most managers use the independence we grant them magnificently, by maintaining an owner-oriented attitude.”
- Employees take more ownership of their jobs
- Encourages more accountability and responsibility
- Provides plentiful resources when needed
- Shows a large degree of trust
- Embraces greater innovation
- Can lead to more laziness from workers
- Creates comfort zones that are difficult to break out of
- May lead to a leadership vacuum
- Reduces productivity in some instances
7. Autocratic Leadership
“Authority is not a power, it is a responsibility.”Amit Kalantri
Unlike the laissez-faire approach, the autocratic leadership style is far more hands-on. In fact, autocratic leaders often prefer to do things themselves. They love to control every detail and assume all the responsibility. While this management style has definite downsides, it does allow for quick thinking and decisive action. Autocratic leadership is all about one person instead of a leadership team.
Elon Musk’s leadership style leans toward managing things at the micro-level. He always wants to be involved in the details. He even once described himself as a “nano-manager” and that he had “OCD on product-related issues.”
- Allows for quicker decisions
- Leads to more adaptability in a short amount of time
- Becomes easier to follow a vision when it comes from one person
- Provides little to no room for feedback or criticism
- Places all the power in one person
- Withholds responsibility, and in turn accountability, from others
- Can lead to going down the wrong path if the leader is wrong
- May damage relationships due to the leader exerting too much control
Organizational Management Requires Flexibility
Organizational management doesn’t have to be a daunting task for you to tackle. With various leadership styles, you can ensure the organization is pursuing goals effectively while individuals grow and develop. Every great business will have an organization and a system designed to get results.
Influential entrepreneur and bestselling author Brad Sugars says that systems are where you can find answers. “I always look to the system for a solution,” he writes. “If a challenge arises I use a system correction before I look for a people correction. I use a system solution in my innovation rather than a people solution. I follow the system exactly until a new system is introduced.”
You need to develop a framework to operate in, but think of those boundaries as an elastic band. There are times when you might need to stretch or times when you need to constrict. Be flexible, study the situation, understand your people, and know what leadership style works best for each individual.
To improve your organizational management, learn more about how to address your employees’ various needs with Situational Leadership®.
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