I recently switched jobs to a new industry and started getting questions about my new place of work as early as my first week. I started out answering with ‘it’s fine’, it’s going well so far’ but honestly I thought it was too early to early to judge. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, especially the new flexible time culture I was being introduced to, which differed so much from my previous place of employment.

In my opinion, a job is very similar to being in a relationship; you get to know each other on the first date just like during an interview, but you only really understand what the other person is like as you spend more time together. Same goes for an organisation, you really understand the company’s culture as time goes on.

In the course of my three short months here, I’ve had the opportunity of working with 2 different mangers and it’s really interesting to see how their leadership style differs and how that could drive the employees to do more or just the barest minimum. For the purpose of this, I’ll call Manager A – John and B – Patrick.  

John initiates a brief informal meeting every Monday to get an update on work related matters. He reiterates the key focus and targets for the week and does well to encourage the team’s progress from the previous week. For days when a meeting is not feasible, he communicates via email but takes a minute or two at each team member’s desk to ensure we’re all on the same page in terms of work expectations.

Patrick on the other hand doesn’t enjoy meetings very much. We had our first and only team meeting with Patrick at the start of the project, where he communicated key expectations and was open to any questions we had regarding the project. All other communications were done via emails, lots of emails, with instructions that left me feeling more pressured to complete my work than motivated to exceed my target. Patrick didn’t make much personal commendations to your face, he preferred to communicate my good work to my line manager. To be fair, I’d rather have my line manager hear it than nobody at all. 

Based on the four leadership styles, John was practicing the ‘Sell’ style while Patrick was practicing the ‘Tell’ style. The former involves managers providing lots of direction and support while the latter involves lots of direction but with little support. While each leadership style is relevant at different times and with different teams, I found John’s approach more helpful mostly because I had a better understanding of how my work tied in to the overall goal of the team and if I’m being completely honest one ‘well done’ a week is good motivation too.

Are you more of a ‘sell’ or ‘tell’ leader or as an employee which do you prefer and which other leadership styles have you encountered?

Hope you’re all having a good start to the new year