Jokes are funny. Your management style is probably not.
The Mole. The Showman. The Workhorse. The Figurehead.
All management styles with pros and cons. All will upset someone. All will get you so far and you may have to change. The four styles I have listed above have been around for a while. But, there’s one more that’s beginning to rear its risky little head, The Millennial. Come on, you knew I’d get there.
A Manager who works his or her way into every aspect of your job, they know every detail of your day, and they have an opinion about everything you do or say.
Pro – Detail-oriented, and always willing to get involved. When the team needs your help, you are always there, ready, willing, and able to step in. This willingness to step into every conceivable situation can easily be abused by a savvy staff. If you find yourself being dragged into customer service issues, sales calls, mundane or routine tasks in the practice, you are probably a Mole.
Con – Will very quickly turn an independent and capable staff into one who always needs you around to attend to every decision. You won’t be able to go on vacation. The house will always feel like it’s burning down around you. And because you haven’t bequeathed decision-making to your team, they will shirk responsibility, including any responsibility to each other, which will lead to an acrimonious working environment.
A Manager who takes the attention away from the team, always willing to give the big speech, make the big sale, and trek across the country to meet with a new client.
Pro – For a team of people best suited to keeping their head down (think accountants, billers, researchers), you are a dream come true. The engineers behind Elon Musk are glad he takes the lead and is always in the spotlight, allowing them to focus on what they do best, the work they enjoy so much, without the extra-added burden of having to be on all the time. This is a great deal! Until it’s not.
Con – A tendency to take the credit is a natural result for the Showman; after all, you’re the one in the room with the big guys when credit is due. When you’re on, you elevate the team, making everyone look like an asset, propelling the company forward into the public eye, sometimes even securing additional investment with your ability to influence. A Showman must be careful, however, for what goes up must inevitably come down. Be sure to share the attention with your team before the spotlight becomes too bright.
A Manager who is always at the office, answers emails on the weekends, even after midnight or early in the morning after their 4am run, career-oriented, and expects their team to be the same.
Pro – You are simply always there. You turn the lights on in the morning and lock the door at night. Your team never has to wonder if the work is getting done. You provide a security that is important. You make them feel safe so that they can do their best work. You are the working adult equivalent of warm cookies fresh out of the oven. The team doesn’t ask how they got there; they just enjoy the results.
Con – Burnout. You will hit a wall. It may not be today, maybe not tomorrow. You may even look back at the end at a failed marriage, and estranged children and ask, was it all worth it? I’m taking the example to the extreme of course, to prove a point. If your team never uses their vacation time up, no one is ever late, or asks to leave early, and if you don’t know the names of their spouses and children, you may be failing to create the relationships that ultimately sustain us through the hardest of times. And worse yet, encouraging your team to do the same—maybe even rewarding them for it.
A Manager who is not a Manager at all really, floating in and out of the office, seemingly without a care in the world, close to retirement, or just starting their career. One wonders, what is it they do all day?
Pro – You are out of the way! If you find yourself managing people who do a job you don’t know how to do, researchers, scientist, programmers, this may be the best route to take. Your team has a technical skill you do not possess, so maybe it’s best to just let them get on with it. You spend your time on operations, making sure you don’t get sued, that the paychecks are signed, sealed, and delivered, and watching from a distance so as not to rock the boat. Your team is great at making decisions, conflict never seems to arise, and sales are robust.
Con – What the Figurehead doesn’t realize is that calm seas often bely a growing tsunami. Earthquakes happen below the surface. No one ever lost at Jenga because they removed the piece on the very top. If you don’t have a career path planned for everyone on your team, if you don’t know at least one thing everyone does well, and one thing they do poorly, if you do not have regular meetings with your top Managers, you may be missing, and failing to prepare for, the storm ahead.
And finally, we come to…
A Manager who wants to be your friend. There isn’t a week that goes by when you don’t share a drink, you follow each other on Instagram, and you regularly meet at the dog park to debate the merits of CrossFit vs. Peloton.
Pro – You actually are friends! You have realized, or have never been robbed of the idea, that you can catch more bees with honey. You inspire loyalty even in the toughest of times. You know your team intimately. You’ve been to their homes, met their families, and thus can see the value and importance of what you do every day and how that contributes to supporting them. You see your team as people, and vice versa. They will be there for you in your darkest hour.
Con – Speaking truth to power is one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to do. And friendship is a powerful bond that many would rather not test. Creating the space for, and delineation between, work and life will be your best asset. Frustration and confrontation are inevitable, raises and promotions, necessary. Thank you for being a friend, but sometimes, you need to lead.
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find success on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.