I have often been blamed to be a lenient manager.
"Ananya, You are too lenient ! Your team is very independent. In the town hall meetings , they always raise some point or the other ... "
"Well ... "
"They take advantage of your liberal attitude. They always seem to be so happy and confident . They are hardly seen working late hours..... "
"But my teams have achieved the best performance awards !" I said
"See... that is why .... you have been too lenient in giving them good appraisal ratings . We are quite strict and do not mince words in the appraisal discussions."
In such conversations, I do not continue further.
But the fact is that , my teams always performed the best, always met their target and contributed well in the overall organizational growth. They were cohesive lots who fought and argued in the team meetings, but once they went out of the meeting, they always spoke the same thing . Sometimes they agreed to disagree.
They were a happy lot, really enjoying their work.
Everybody has their own leadership style.
There is no "Good" or "Bad" leadership style. The style has to meet the situation, the audience and the organization. I personally do not believe in typecasting a style as "lenient" or "strict".
The leader has to lead the team to success.
Any manager will tell you that his or her ideal staff is self-sufficient, conscientious, and trustworthy. With only the lightest supervision, they can essentially manage themselves. Sometimes, you will stumble upon employees like this by blind luck. More often, managers who are able to take a hands-off approach have invested a great deal of effort at the start of the employment relationship training, mentoring, and establishing clear performance and conduct guidelines.
It is almost like bringing up kids.
The manager has to trust the team and treat them like adults , capable of managing themselves. They should be taken towards being a "self-managed " team. This happens gradually, but the leader must constantly drive their team towards this goal.
Once the manager senses that the team can handle the freedom, only then, slowly and steadily the team becomes independent .
I have seen the team taking ownership and pride when they feel that they are the decision makers. It is not true that they do not put in extra effort, but fact is that there is so much of teamwork that the workload gets shared. I have observed my team members staying late nights to solve a problem in spite of my telling them to go home and complete the work next day.
As a general rule, it is a bad idea for supervisors to become overly friendly with their employees, but the leader has to know how to be empathetic and where to draw the line .
Even as you demonstrate genuine caring, you must preserve some professional distance. Otherwise, you will risk insubordination and the appearance of impropriety.
The leader should endeavor to set appropriate boundaries at the workplace so that s/he does not compromise on the capacity to be the boss when the needs be.
S/he should shift the focus from winning the love of the employees to managing a successful business. At the same time, the team should feel one with the manager, ready to take up challenges and achieve goals happily and efficiently. The leader should be capable of changing his style at the right time and at the right situation.
The feeling is really exhilarating and satisfying.
I feel that somehow, somewhere I have managed to touch their lives.