There are distinct types of managers, different kinds of employees and various types of jobs, all of which may require a different approach to leadership.
However, it is important to be aware of the difference between leadership styles; there are more democratic workplaces, where everyone’s opinion counts, and more autocratic environments, where the boss’ opinion is the most important one.
Different situations call for different treatment of the managers to the employees; for example, if a staff member is just starting on the job, they will benefit more from a dictator-type manager who explains what needs to be done, versus a democratic leader who asks for their opinion, since as a new employee, they will not have much to contribute.
However, in other situations, where permitted, communicating versus dictating will offer more advantages to both the employees and to the organisation as a whole as employees will feel that they have more of a say in their own working environments.
Here are examples of the difference between communicating and dictating:
Speaking v Listening
Dictating can be thought of as one-way communication where the boss doles out instructions and the employees listen and implement them; this focuses on speaking.
Communicating, while also involving speaking and giving out some instructions, mostly focuses on listening to your staff.
This is a democratic way of leading a team where consulting with, questioning and advising with your staff is valued and practiced daily instead of simply providing them with instructions and expecting them to carry them out.
Communicating is a two-way dialogue instead of a monologue; managers really need to hone in their listening skills to empower their subordinates with a voice.
Answering v Asking
While it is necessary to dictate in certain positions, such as when a professor instructs teacher’s aids on the correct way to grade student papers, this type of leadership doesn’t always benefit employees in other situations.
To make sure you are not dictating, but communicating with your team, focus on asking questions rather than answering.
Instead of fostering a corporate culture where employees feel the need to come to you for help, empower them to seek out and try to answer their questions themselves.
If they do ask you a question, turn it around on them to see if they can come up with the right answer themselves.
Doing so will create responsible and effective employees which will benefit your organisation.
Correcting v Teaching
Another difference between dictating and communicating with staff members is the action of correcting versus teaching.
If your employees make a mistake on a task or a project, it is often faster to correct the error rather than spend the time explaining to the individual where the mistake occurred.
However, although this may save time on the particular task, in the long run, it will be a disadvantage to both the employee and the manager since the employee will never realise the mistake, and will continue making it.
To be a communicative type of leader, spend the time to educate your team members on the skills necessary to thrive in their positions independently.
A modern manager is one who really communicates with his or her staff; listens to them, asks them questions and teaches them necessary skills.
Employ these strategies to improve your leadership style.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 8 December, 2015
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