Human Resources

As Your Company Grows Should Your Leadership Style Change?

Your organisation’s culture is determined by the heads of departments, with their influence flowing down. The styles they’ve adopted are a consequence of their past experiences and the opportunities and constraints of their current situation.

Mostly, their gut instinct will help them lead the way. It tends to be when their teams grow too large, they take on more responsibilities or have to manage people who work in different locations, that their influence begins to suffer.

It’s within these parameters that their style begins to change, as they adapt to their current situation. Typically, time spent with each employee is reduced, and their style moves away from inspirational to autocratic.

Why should your style matter – as long as it gets results:

Now it could be argued that it simply doesn’t matter what style your leaders choose to follow. As long as their department achieves the expected results, why disrupt it?  And it’s a good point, but a very short term way of viewing the situation.

Your leader simply says “do this, or else” and if the instructions are clear, their subordinates should achieve their expected results. But we know employees are a lot more complex than that, they need more time for growth and learning.

In the long run an autocratic style could indirectly promote a greater “churn” environment as Harvard Business Review lists the top reason an employee’s leave as “Not liking their boss”.

“Not liking your boss” – the biggest reason employees leave:

I’m sure it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that “Not liking your boss” is the number one reason for employees to leave. It should also be noted that Leadership experts have listed Autocratic leaders as the most “hated” by members of Generation Y (1970s – 1990s).

Whilst Autocratic leaders can get results in the short term, for a company to retain its best employees, it shouldn’t incentivise an environment that creates one.

So it begs the following question:

“How can you create an environment that gets the best return out of your leaders, gets the best return out of their subordinates, and prevents a high churn?”

Well, give your leaders the tools to make smarter decisions, automate administrative tasks and the time they need with each employee.

Arm your leaders with the tools they need to spend more time with each employee

Think about it, would you rather your leaders were busy bogged down in paperwork, or on their feet and immersed within their team?

Would you rather they were fiddling about with excel macros, or pulling off top level reports with the touch of a button?

Would you rather they were blindly leading, or that they had the insights into where their “weakest links” are in their team?

The easiest thing you can help your leaders with is abolishing (or at least reducing) their administrative tasks. This can be done through modern systems and software that can help in the hiring process as well.

Some suggestions to do this would be:

  1. Have global pre-set e-mail templates and canned responses. No need to design a new template every time you respond to common queries.
  2. Own software that can automate the likes of time off requests and sick leave. You should look for cloud-based HR software to help you do this.
  3. Create smaller teams with more leaders. You could even aim for a more flat management structure, where everybody learns from each other, instead of taking direction from above.
  4. Abolish daily morning meetings if they’re not necessary. Especially if you find you’re just repeating the same lines over and over.

By following any of the above suggestions, you’ll give your leaders the time they need to help their subordinates do their job. Whether that’s creating incentives for their top performers, or even using their influence to pull more resources for them.

Your leadership shouldn’t change – your time management should:


So to answer the initial question “As your company grows should your leadership style change?”

No, it shouldn’t. Your leadership style is your biggest asset and it’s often what determines the culture of your workplace. Instead, you should look for ways to maximise your time and use it more wisely. Whether this is automating certain tasks using software, or reducing the number of people you’re leading, it’s important to maintain the same strong leadership style.

With your company’s growth, new challenges are inevitable. Take great care not to lose focus on the strong leadership style that got you there in the first place.