What kind of leader does your company have?
What it means to be a leader
What is it to be a leader? Or rather, what is it to be a good leader? Exercising leadership is not an easy task, that’s obvious. However, there are different ways to do it and it is important to decide which type we want to emulate. We can differentiate two groups: the traditional, or controlling, leader and the facilitating leader.
What is a traditional leader?
The traditional leader is based on the ideas of control and command and in a way of operating that entails a certain rigidity. They are, normally, the Head of the company or department, to whom you have to report the things that are done, who controls the work and schedules and who controls the objectives. This type of leader needs to supervise their team and everything they do on a day-to-day basis.
This desire for control is due to deep and important internal resistance fueled by our fears and mistrust. Fear of making a mistake and losing control of the situation, fear that we will not be as successful as possible and, of course, distrust in the ability of our colleagues.
A very clear example is the following: Imagine we have a company that wants to change, its leader wants to transform from a traditional leader to a facilitative leader as part of the Teal transformation that the company is undertaking. In this context, a new person joins the team. He was settling in well and has positive reports and feedback from the team. But someone had told the leader that this person was constantly looking at his mobile phone and that he seemed to be wasting a lot of time. In keeping with the traditional leader role, the boss decides to focus on controlling this new person due to a lack of trust, instead of talking to him.
Why? Because the leader here was afraid of losing control of the situation. When they finally decided to broach the matter with the new staff member, what was really happening came to light: that new person had used the phone as a means of communication with another member of the team who was remote working, instead of email or landline, used WhatsApp to communicate. In the end, he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
In this case, a facilitating leader, upon detecting this situation, would have asked: «Hey, is something wrong with you?» or «Why are you doing this?», «Can I help you in any way?» It would have been more easily resolved and the positive impact would have been enormous.
It is true that this transformation is not easy, it requires time, trust in the team and overcoming the fear of losing control when we give it up to others.
What is a facilitative leader?
A facilitative leader is behind the team, training, teaching and supporting the team. They are the complete opposite of a controlling leader. This means that a facilitative leader keeps themselves in the background of the company hierarchy, that is, the team members are the ones who are in contact with the clients, solve problems and make decisions. All the while the leader is behind them to offer support or help.
Faced with a problem, the leader supports the team however they need and leaves the responsibility for solving it to the person on the team who exercises that role. In addition, this type of leader is capable of creating a conversational space in which the team can learn from situations that have happened to other members or the leader themselves. This is based on the model Teal company where the leader is there to ask for advice or an opinion, but does not control or require ongoing reporting.
In short, this is a leader who helps the team grow and encourages them to reflect, especially when making decisions. Regardless of whether the final decision is right or wrong, the team are encouraged to think through the decisions to be made while the leader offers his help in doing so without expecting a medal in return.
Therefore, to be one type of leader or another is our decision. Being a controlling leader will make us enter into a dynamic of control over all aspects of the company that can generate unnecessary stress for us, as well as slowing down our development as leaders and as professionals in our sector. However, by being a facilitative leader, we make our company attractive for our staff already inside and also to those who see us from outside because we will help our team to evolve and, therefore, to find new ways to improve our company for the future.