Laid-back leadership styles can be an effective way of building relationships with employees but there are also a number of pitfalls.
Leadership can often be a difficult balancing act. Some employees look for more traditional management techniques, and keep a very professional relationship at all times. On the other hand, this leadership style will prevent many others from developing meaningful connections with their boss.
A laid-back leadership style can have plenty of advantages when running a team. From creating a relationship that encourages transparency and honesty to boosting engagement and morale, there are a variety of reasons why managers would want to adopt a more casual approach.
However, this doesn't mean that there aren't drawbacks to this style of leadership, especially if it isn't implemented appropriately.
Here are three of the most common problems of laid-back leadership:
1. You're not laidback, you're lazy
There's nothing wrong with being a non-traditional manager if you are still as effective - if not more so - than more traditional peers. Problems arise, however, when leaders believe they're laid-back but they're actually just lazy.
Having a manager that allows employees to have as much freedom as possible may sound ideal, but an absent boss is very much the opposite. A key part of leadership is coaching professionals through personal development and someone who is unwilling to engage with this is fairly useless in their leadership role. Not only does this lack of involvement in people management mean it's difficult for employees to develop their skills but it's also nearly impossible for problems to be highlighted.
Laid-back leadership can be a fantastic way to create a more meaningful connection with employees, where they are comfortable being honest about their opinions, thoughts and feelings. However, if this casual management style isn't being used to improve communication and internal relations then it's falling short.
2. Your team may be short on motivation
Being laidback can easily come across as being disinterested if you're not careful and this can lead to disengagement across a team. If you opt for a more casual approach to management, it's important that you take definitive steps to ensure that it's clear you care about the company, your role and your team. Measures that may seem small, such as delivering on promises and setting your own personal development goals, will tell the professionals around you that you're engaged with your role.
Lacking motivation can be a considerable issue for organizations of all sizes, especially those with high turnovers. It can be difficult to encourage employees to care about their development if their peers are regularly rushing out the door. Likewise, if others are demotivated on the team, it's difficult to get even the most standout employee to develop their skills and become a more valuable asset.
3. You may not warrant respect
Whether it's with the organization's C-level executives or professionals on your own team, being laidback can mean it's more difficult for the people you work with to respect you. This presents a number of obvious challenges if you're responsible for negotiating budgets, communicating team performance or even asking for more social events but it also can cause problems on a team level.
If professionals on your team don't have respect for you, they're unlikely to be motivated or engaged with the company as a whole or with its objectives. In addition, you'll struggle to have a meaningful manager-employee relationship with anyone under your responsibility if they don't respect you and your role.
It's important to note that respect is very different to being liked. Personalities clash in a workplace but this shouldn't mean that you're not able to develop a professional relationship with each individual in the team based on respect. To earn this, you need to follow through with promises you make and be an advocate for your team to higher level executives, even if your influence is limited.
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