During the enterprise management, leaders who assume the responsibility to take charge of the company play a key role in maintaining the normal operation of enterprise. As early as the end of the 19th century, there have been studies focusing on personality traits and behavior of leaders.
Later, the behavioral theories, contingency theory, and attribution theory have begun to turn to study the leadership. Simply speaking, leadership stands for leader’s ability to lead and direct the team to achieve the goal. Leaders always show different working styles when managing the organization.
Several distinct leadership styles including participative, autocratic, and entrepreneurial have been proposed by researchers. Besides, there are Fiedler Contingency Model (LPC), Path-Goal Theory by Robert House and Life Cycle Theory to Leadership which focus on leadership style and some related issues. Based on the leadership style theory –Average leadership style (ALS) by Kurt
Zadek Lewin, the three leadership styles include autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire one.
If I was a leader in an international company and have been described as a hands-on leader by my team, I would have a reflection and consider if I have appropriately handled the company matters under the priority principle. As a leader, he should be outstanding from the following aspects: learning, decision-making, organizing, coaching, execution and charisma.
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Actually, “hands-on” leader is the reflection of autocratic leadership style. Under this leadership style, the leader always centralizes all power in his own hands. The hands-on leader will manage all kinds of work, no matter how big or trivial. As for the decision-making way, the leader will make all decisions regardless of the subordinates’ opinions. Undoubtedly, the leadership style can have bad influence on the organization’s performance.
Let’s take some examples to show the disadvantages of hands-on leader style. Zhuge Liang (181—234), as a famous statesman and strategist in China, who was the prime minister of the Kingdom of Shu in the period of the Three Kingdoms, has died young due to overwork because he always conducted each task by himself.
After his death, there were few successors because his subordinates have not been fully cultivated to be qualified for his job. Then a vicious circle has been formed. This has proved that the hands-on leader style may let the organization get into trouble. The case was the same in LD, an international company which did very well in the international market with a high market share.
The company intended to set up branches in Mainland China and the CM and some top managers were from the Hong Kong-based office and followed the previous working style. However, as a consumer products corporation, the operation mode in China was different from that of in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, some key accounts can bring 70% sales volume while in China the distribution channel was more complex and the market area was larger.
Accordingly, it required more labor to operate the company well. However, the GM Helen has carried on the previous working style and wanted to know all the details at work. On recruitment management, all decisions including the temporary workers quota have to be reported to Helen for the final review. For example, LD has ever recruited a key account—a middle manager.
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Based on the management style of Helen, the applicants have to be interviewed by the recruiting manager, HR manager, regional manager, sales director and Helen. As other managers all knew that Helen had the final say, they seemed to withhold their opinions. It always took two hours to conduct an interview for Helen who was also very busy.
The applicants had to wait for one month so two of them retired due to this Marathon process that let all people become exhausted. Actually, it only needed the HR manager and sales director to make a decision based on normal interview process. But in this case, all subordinate managers were compelled to participate in the interview but did not seem to be key figures.
Helen just found that all managers could give useful advice and naturally began to deal with more affairs, which has put more pressure on herself. This has led to a vicious cycle. All managers had little development space and had no rights to make decisions or formulate strategies and had to manage more Trivial matters. They have not got full practice and improvement.
Besides, the company suffered great economic because of almost four-month position vacancy. Under such atmosphere, all employees are pretending to be working and seem tired, but the working efficiency is low and in fact it is a great waste of time and resources.
Leadership is a long-term partnership and shared responsibility between leaders and group members. When effective, leadership inspires confidence and support among people who are needed to achieve organizational goals. Leadership is the art of being a man instead of handling affairs.
Effective leaders need to focus on both structuring the work and supporting and developing good interpersonal relationships with and among group members. That is to say, as a leader, he shall not only focus on achieving the goal but also pay attention to the long-term development of team members and building a harmonious relation with them.
Hands-on leader has not learnt to stare the “Big picture” and delegate powers to lower levels to offer more practice opportunities to them and then can have time to “relax”. Nevertheless, leaders should identify different situations and then choose the appropriate leadership style to match.