Business School: Be a Less Autocratic Leader

| June 12, 2015

Business School

Harvard Business Review

Trying to lead a seasoned, highly skilled team through command-and-control won’t work. These groups need leaders who are emotionally and intellectually agile, and able to modulate styles as needed. To be less autocratic, try shifting:

• From self-awareness to social awareness. It’s not enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses. You have to know how your behavior affects people. Ask: What is the impact of your management style on others? How do you know what others are feeling?

• From directive to inquisitive. When you’re trying to foster creativity, you need to be less declarative and more curious. Ask: How much time do you spend listening rather than speaking? How do you leverage diverse perspectives?

• From power over to power with. When you flaunt authority, people will often shut down or hide, and the team loses momentum. Ask: How do you stimulate the best thinking from your team? How often do team members make decisions?

Adapted from “Learn to Become a Less Autocratic Manager,” by Jeffrey W. Hull.

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