Team Management

Adapting Your Leadership Style to Expanding Teams: Here's How

It comes as no surprise that leadership style and effectiveness spells a great part of organizational success. As a team expands, it is imperative for managers to adapt their leadership style to the changing circumstances to ensure efficiency in working and management. Micromanagement and trying to retain control over everything might not be the best idea for managers seeking to lead expanding teams. It is not only that managers have more team members to direct and oversee, the entire nature of their role changes and, thus, requires a reinvention in the leadership style.


Leadership Style for a Growing Team


Managers and leaders must focus on reinventing the way they lead, when adding new members to their team. Leadership styles need to adapt to the changing nature of the team. Here are a few starting points for managers to lead an expanding team.


Direct to Indirect: When a team is small or close knit, managers and leaders tend to have a 1-o-1 relationship with every member. There is a direct connect and employees generally report immediately to the manager. However, as a team expands, such a close knit relationship undergoes a change and there are several levels of leadership in the team. Invariably, adapting to the new leadership style involves managers to adopt an indirect approach to management. This refers to stepping away from micromanagement and personally discussing every situation with every employee. The change in leadership style requires involving oneself in high value add conversations, while being there for employees at every step, without indulging in every little management practice. 


Charisma vs Authority: As a team expands, there invariably is the addition of a set of employees who are intimidated by their manager. While in a small team, employees feel confident and comfortable in sharing their opinions with the manager, as the team expands, this comfort starts to decline. Managers need to nurture their leadership style in a manner which is able to command them the respect and compliance of their expanding teams. But, at the same time, there needs to be enough room for employees to share their opinions without any fear. Statements like, “In my opinion this should be the course of action, what do you think?” In other words those which invite the perspectives of others must be encouraged. The idea is to find a balance between authority to ensure respect as well as charisma to illustrate collaboration and participation.  


Choose Wisely: As a manager of an expanding team, leaders are bound to come across multiple fires to fight and battles to win. However, if you pick every fight that comes along the way, you will reach the stage of burn out by the time you reach the final battle. Therefore, reinventing the leadership style requires weighing situations and prioritizing. While some tasks need to be reserved for you to perform on your own, others need to be delegated, and this choice should be wise and thought through. Any work that does not require particularly your skills or expertise, must be passed on to the team, because that’s the reason for the expansion. Managers must wisely reserve those activities for themselves that add a unique advantage to the organizational value chain. 


People Skills: Finally, the one definite thing about team expansion for managers is to deal with more and more people and therefore, refining and investing in one’s people skills is a must. As you might have observed, as individuals move up the leadership ladder, their role becomes less and less technical or wrapped around a particular niche. A manager’s role no longer is to perform the technical task at hand, but rather, manage, mentor, and guide the expanding team and help them navigate the way to perform those tasks. Therefore, people skills of boosting morale and motivation, promoting engagement and collaboration, etc. take precedence. Adapting to manage an expanding team requires a leadership style that is well versed with people centric skills and practices. 


Leadership effectiveness starts with the right style


Adapting to a new leadership style to manage an expanding team is no rocket science. It simply requires subtle behavioral nudges to act in ways that enable managers to look at a bigger picture. Undoubtedly, different HR tools and platforms can be an effective way to unlock the needed leadership style. Such tools help organizations personalize the nudges and learnings for their managers to adapt to a new leadership style. Invariably, reinventing leadership style is the first step towards nurturing effective leaders that are an asset to the organization and the industry as a whole.   


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