How do I Stop one of my Managers/Team leaders from Dictating to staff? How do I get them to ask for Input?
Leadership Style Assessment
What is meant by ‘dictating’ to staff?
Have you ever heard the saying: “When I say jump, I expect you to you say ‘how high?’” Dictating is about having power and control over people, and the need to control is an expression of mistrust. – “I don’t trust you to control yourself, so I will control you!” Dictating leaders are essentially at odds with their staff.
Examples of dictating:
- Using authority and fear tactics to get things done
- Trying co control what staff should think, say and do
- Unilaterally making decisions for staff to carry out
Why do some leaders choose to dictate to staff?
A leader who is dictating to staff is applying an autocratic style of leadership. It is important to acknowledge that in responding to certain circumstances, an autocratic style of leadership is a legitimate and appropriate response.
However, difficulty arises when the autocratic style is inappropriate for the given circumstances. More serious adverse effects occur when the leader either knows no other way, or simply chooses to be autocratic all or most of the time. Autocratic leadership used inappropriately creates dysfunction.
What are the adverse effects of dictating to staff?
Because team members are motivated by fear, they often are:
- Reluctant to reveal problems
- Reluctant to share opposing opinions with their leader
- Less likely to communicate upwards
- Less likely to convey accurate information (send only selective messages they think will bring rewards or forestall punishment
- Less empowered, engaged, responsible, motivated and productive
- Very likely to behave and perform poorly
- power struggles (gossiping, back stabbing, etc)
- excessive submission and conformity
- suppressed creativity
- withdrawal (both physical and psychological)
- rebellion, defiance and sabotage - from those who refuse to submit
How to stop a leader from dictating to staff
The key to applying an appropriate style of leadership is to gain an understanding of what style best suits what circumstances.
Situations, conditions, and people are constantly changing. A leader needs to stay flexible and able to respond to what is going on. Many ‘experts’ advocate a participative or democratic (shared) leadership style as being best. Each persons’ unique style is made up of some combination of the four prototype styles:
- Autocratic: The autocratic leader makes the demand and the group is expected to respond.
- Participative: The participative leader is involved with, and negotiates with the group.
- Supportive: The supportive leader assists the group in developing a process so that it can deal with a situation.
- Laissez-faire: The laissez-faire leader describes the outcomes to be achieved, and then disengages from the group.
What works best for one person is probably that person’s primary style. However, to be versatile, the leader should learn to use the other three styles as back up for differing circumstances.
How to get a leader to elicit input from staff
Styles of leadership can be placed on a continuum, with a controlling style at one end and a facilitating style at the other. A team leader’s position along this continuum is determined by how much she or he shares the responsibility for decision making with team members.
Traditionally, the role of a leader was to control her or his team members’ task and actions. Leaders made decisions and communicated them to team members, who carried them out.
However, in many organisations, the trend is away from controlling leadership and toward facilitative leadership, in which leaders and team members share the responsibility of making decisions, planning to implement decisions, and carrying out these plans.
|Controlling Leader's Role:||Facilitating Leader's Role:|
|Direct||Direct group process|
|Solve problems||Build consensus|
|Set goals||Share in goal setting|
|Use authority to get things done||Empower others to get things done|
Controlling and facilitating leaders view power in different ways. Controlling leaders regard power as something to be hoarded and shared cautiously. The results produced by their work teams are often based on the leader’s own abilities.
Facilitative leaders, regard power as something to be shared, and can grow when spread amongst team members.
Both types of leaders produce results. The difference is that facilitating leaders often produce better results because their team members are empowered and do not simply follow orders.
Under facilitative leaders, team members are more likely to support decisions, because they have had input in the decision-making process. The responsibility for implementing decisions is shared; team members’ skills, abilities, experience, and knowledge are fully utilised. Teams led by facilitative leaders operate in win-win situations. They complete tasks by working together.
In contrast, teams led by controlling leaders operate in what ultimately are win-lose situations. As perceived by the leaders, to give power to their teams means that they themselves lose power. Therefore, controlling leaders actually are at odds with their teams.
Facilitating Groups and Teams
Facilitation is the ability to use appropriate skills and techniques that assist individuals to openly contribute their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and ideas in a group environment, thus enabling the full resource of the group to be utilised.
Since the leader tasks of controlling and directing have evolved into facilitating,- including coaching, encouraging, listening, and teaching, it is unrealistic to expect traditional leaders to spontaneously become empowering leaders. Yet, successful groups and teams depend largely on how well leaders are prepared for their responsibilities as facilitators of group development.
Facilitative leaders require skills, which enable them to effectively tap the collective and co-operative consciousness of the people they lead, including:
- The ability to focus on the paradigms, values, attitudes, and behaviour, needed to foster participation and empowerment.
- Gaining an enhanced understanding of their ability to relate within groups and apply new behaviours.
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