Leadership as Influence, Not Control
The modern workplace is undergoing a transformation, and the role of the manager, leader, and business owner is changing too. What is leadership? The answer to this question involves using positive influence rather than control.
In the past, managers were seen as controllers, imposing their authority on employees and micromanaging their work. Today’s workforce expects a more collaborative approach, where managers influence others as leaders, coaches, and facilitators of teamwork.
This set of leadership skills relies on building trust, fostering collaboration, and empowering employees to take ownership of their work. In contrast, managerial control is a top-down approach that relies on strict rules, policies, and procedures to ensure compliance with organizational goals.
In this blog, I will promote influential leadership as a preference over administrative control in order to thrive as an effective leader. I will explore the negative effects of control and the positive impact of an influential leader. These positive effects include:
- fostering a sense of ownership and accountability
- promoting communication and collaboration
- reducing stress and burnout
I will then give you some helpful next steps to help you develop as a great leader and build a healthy workplace culture.
Negative Results of Control
Managerial control may be necessary for certain limited situations. However, it can have significant negative results that can harm employees and organizations. Here are some of the negative results of managerial control and micromanagement:
- Decreased employee morale: When employees feel that their work is constantly being monitored and they have little autonomy, it can lead to a decrease in morale. This can result in a lack of motivation, decreased job satisfaction, and high employee turnover rates.
- Reduced creativity and innovation: Micromanagement can stifle creativity and innovation by limiting employees’ decision-making and risk-taking. This can result in a lack of new ideas, fear of different approaches, and a stagnant work environment.
- Increased stress and burnout: Employees who are constantly monitored and controlled may experience high levels of stress and burnout, leading to physical and mental health problems. This can also lead to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.
- Decreased trust and respect: When managers constantly interfere in employees’ work, it can create a lack of trust and respect between managers and employees. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and collaboration, making it difficult to achieve organizational goals.
- Decreased efficiency: Micromanagement can lead to decreased efficiency, as employees may spend more time on administrative tasks and seeking approval rather than on completing their work. This can result in missed deadlines and increased costs.
- Negative impact on organizational culture: Micromanagement can create a negative organizational culture where employees feel stifled, unsupported, and undervalued. This can make it difficult to attract and retain talented employees and can harm the organization’s reputation.
Fostering a Sense of Ownership and Accountability
One of the primary benefits of managerial influence is that it fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among employees. When leaders influence others rather than control them, employees feel more engaged, motivated, and committed to achieving organizational goals. At the same time, accountability ensures that everyone is responsible for their actions and that there are consequences for poor performance or misconduct.
Fostering this environment comes with an intentional effort to create these qualities. Here are some ways organizations can achieve this:
- Clear expectations and goals: Employees need to know what is expected of them and what they are working towards. Good leaders set clear goals and expectations, helping employees understand their roles and how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization.
- Empowerment: Managers are not the only ones that can influence people. When employees have the authority to make decisions, they develop a point of view that they are trusted and valued, increasing their motivation and commitment to their work.
- Communication: Managers should use their influencing skills regularly with employees to provide feedback, support, and guidance. This helps employees understand how their work is being evaluated and how they can improve.
- Recognition and feedback: Employees who receive recognition and feedback for their efforts and contributions feel valued and motivated to continue their high-performing efforts. It can also foster the employee’s own leadership development.
- Consistency: The best leaders and organizations are consistent in their expectations and approach to accountability. Suppose employees see that some people are held accountable for their actions while others are not. In that case, it can create a sense of unfairness and erode trust in the organization.
Promoting Communication and Collaboration
In today’s fast-paced work environment, communication and collaboration are essential to ensure success. A work environment that promotes communication and collaboration among team members helps to increase productivity, reduce errors, and foster a sense of community and shared purpose. Here are some strategies for creating a work environment that promotes communication and collaboration among team members:
- Encourage open communication: Team members should be encouraged to express their ideas and opinions openly without fear of retribution or judgment. This requires creating an environment that values and respects everyone’s contributions, regardless of their position or seniority.
- Use technology: In today’s digital age, technology provides many tools to facilitate communication and collaboration among team members. Online collaboration tools, such as project management software and video conferencing platforms, allow team members to work together in real-time, no matter their location.
- Emphasize shared goals: To promote collaboration, team members should understand the common goals and objectives of the project or organization. When team members clearly understand the shared goal, they are more likely to work together, build connections, and share information.
- Provide training and development: Team members should be provided with opportunities for training and development to help them acquire the skills necessary to work effectively in a collaborative environment. This can include training in communication skills, conflict resolution, and problem-solving.
- Encourage feedback: Team members should be encouraged to provide feedback to one another, as this helps to promote communication and collaboration. Feedback should be constructive, respectful, and focused on improving performance.
Reducing Stress and Burnout
Stress and burnout are significant issues in the modern workplace. They can have serious negative consequences for both employees and organizations. Fortunately, a work environment where managerial influence is used to reduce stress and burnout can help to create a healthier and more productive workplace. Here are some strategies that managers can use to reduce stress and burnout among employees:
- Set clear expectations: As mentioned previously, managers should set clear expectations for employee performance and provide regular feedback on how well employees are meeting those expectations. This helps to reduce uncertainty and anxiety among employees and can prevent burnout caused by feeling overwhelmed or unsupported.
- Provide resources: Better leaders provide employees with the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively, such as adequate training, technology, and support staff. This helps to reduce stress caused by feeling under-resourced or unsupported.
- Encourage work-life balance: A work-life balance helps to reduce stress caused by feeling overworked or unable to manage personal responsibilities. Managers and organizations that provide reasonable flexibility and time off help employees manage their lives as a whole and reduce the feelings of overload.
- Provide recognition and rewards: Incorporating recognition and rewards into your leadership style helps to reduce employee stress caused by feeling undervalued or unappreciated.
Address burnout early: Early intervention can produce positive results and prevent significant issues later. Provide employees with the support they need during the early signs of stress and burnout. This can include offering counseling, coaching, or schedule changes.