I have done quite a few leadership seminars in my day, from HOBY Leadership in High School, to LEAD Scholars in college, to first-time supervisor training. I’ve learned all of the different leadership styles because I had to write endless papers on them. But not until my first-time supervisor training did it click as to how to use these styles, and it has stuck with me ever since. I learned that: You don’t pick a leadership style that fits you. You utilize all of the leadership styles and apply them to how your people need to be supervised. Some people need/like micromanaging and others like autonomy. You have to be flexible as a leader to adapt to their needs.
The best example I can give is one of my own personal experience – where I have had two different kinds of leadership styles used on me to my benefit. When I first started at my job, my boss knew that he needed to train me and treat me like a mentee. He taught me business writing (which they don’t teach in college), how to use “comparagraphs,” and he reviewed all of my work with a fine tooth comb, making sure I had all my bases covered and all of my rationale as sound as possible.
And, after awhile, he micromanaged me less and less. He knew what my strengths and weaknesses were and managed them accordingly. And then, sadly, he moved on and a co-worker was promoted to his position.
Do you know the story of how a baby eagle is raised with loving care and then as soon as the parents know it’s ready to fly they literally kick it out of the nest? Well, my new boss also knew that I had grown a lot since I had been there and held me to the highest expectation that if I ever came to him for anything, it shouldn’t be because I messed up on something that I knew better about. With him, my autonomy and my self-authority has helped me grow even more and fly even higher, and I know that if I ever do need anything – if I get stuck in a little storm or lose my bearings, he flies over to offer me guidance and support… but I do know I’ll never see that nest again.
And I’m great with that.