Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in Executive Leadership / General Management

Effecitve Management Is A Choice


When studying management or leadership, you’ll probably learn about Six Management Styles, when to use them, when not to use them. You may even participate in a DISC personality assessment to determine where your natural management temperament falls and how well you are able to adapt your temperament to challenging workplace situations. Both are very useful management assessment tools. They help to understand your potential, uncover strengths to develop, as well as weaknesses to overcome throughout your career. These assessments provide insight as to what kind of a manager you already are, but what about the manager you want to be? Do you need this insight to start making positive changes today?


Here’s the thing, not everyone has the resources (time or money) for formal training or coaching on these tools. But there is another, simpler approach that anyone can use to proactively improve their management skills. It starts by making a choice, and holding yourself accountable for its outcome.


You have two paths to choose from:


A)     I choose to be the type of manager that develops my most effective self.


B)     I choose to be the type of manager that develops the most effective relationship with each & every member of my team.


Before reading this article any further, just ask yourself the question, which path have you taken so far? Many of us choose path A and there is nothing wrong with that; you’ll learn some useful tools that will have an impact on your effectiveness over time. But if you truly want to be successful as a manager, choosing path B will have a positive impact and influence on your ability to manage effectively…right away. You may even find that self-development tools such Management Style and DISC assessments will add even more depth to your individual relationships after you make this choice.


To explain the difference between choosing what type of manager you want to be, vs. understanding the type of manager that you currently are, let’s first summarize the “Six Management Styles”, as well as the “DISC Personality” assessment process.


Six Management Styles according to Hay-McBer:

1)     Authoritative: Provides long-term direction & vision

2)     Coaching: Develops employees for the long-term

3)     Affiliative: Creates harmony in work relationships among the team

4)     Democratic: Builds commitment through collaboration

5)     Pacesetting: Pushes to accomplish tasks

6)     Coercive: Demands compliance


The concept is that by answering a questionnaire regarding different management scenarios, based on your answers, a percentage is derived for each management style. This percentage, on a scale from 1-100%, represents your use of each style. The higher the percentage, the more you tend to use that approach as you manage. All six management styles have a purpose depending on the situation, and the most effective managers usually score high percentages in at least three categories of the first four styles listed above (Authoritative, Coaching, Affiliative & Democratic). Less effective managers/leaders do not have the ability to comfortably apply management styles when needed and tend to score high in only two or fewer categories.


This is useful information for self-development. Where you are weak, you can focus a development plan so that over time you improve your ability to apply the best skill to each situation that comes your way.


The second assessment tool is the DISC personality assessment that was created in theory by William Marston and in practice by Walter Clarke.


The DISC Profile Defines Four Personality Traits:

(D) Dominance: Direct, decisive, risk taker, problem solver, often argumentative, seeks power & control, ability to see the big picture, innovative, self-confident, and fast paced


(I) Influence: Outgoing, optimistic, persuasive, often impulsive & emotional, able to communicate well in various situations, collaborative, sometimes insecure


(S) Steadiness: Patient, thoughtful, good listener, understanding, supportive, stable, often predictable, doesn’t like to be rushed, avoids or dislikes change


(C) Conscientiousness: Structured, organized, accurate, detail oriented, careful, risk adverse, analytical, set’s and lives by high standards and accountability, independent, diplomatic


Like the Six Management Styles assessment, the DISC assessment rates your personality strengths and weaknesses based on your answers to an extensive list of questions and scenarios. The results are usually reported two ways, first is your natural personality when nobody is looking, second is your adaptive personality-how you behave when you feel you are being watched. There is no “correct” personality, instead the results are more for self-awareness so that you can offset weakness by developing skills that don’t come naturally to you. As with Six Management Styles, the more DISC traits you can pull from, the better you will be able to adapt to any situation.


From a management perspective, agility in both Management Style and DISC traits enhances your ability to perform effectively in whatever situation comes your way. These traditional tools for self-development can be very useful. They can also be a bit complex. That’s why they are typically administered by Management Coaches or Human Resouce Professionals, and used as a foundation for the coaching process.


But let’s focus on something you can do today, something you can do on your own, something that will help to make you a better manager.


Start by choosing this path, right here and now…say it aloud and write it down.

I choose to be the type of manager that develops the most effective relationship with each & every member of my team.


  • By choosing this path you acknowledge that management is not just a team sport, but a group of distinct, bilateral relationships proactively forged, by you, between yourself and each of your employees.

  • By making this choice you acknowledge that you must work with each employee individually to identify the most effective way to send and receive information.

  • By making this choice you acknowledge that, as the manager, you need to define the context for each relationship to exist.

  • By making this choice you acknowledge that, as the manager, you are responsible for following up and ensuring the relationship is functioning as agreed to.


Let’s go through an example of a manager named John and his employee Michael.




John’s management style (whether he knows it or not) tends to be on the Coaching spectrum of the “Six Management Styles.” He develops employees for the long-term and considers himself to be a good communicator. John makes it a rule to meet with each of his employees once a week in one-on-one sessions to touch base, get updates and set/reset priorities. Michael appreciates the exposure to his boss, but feels a bit micromanaged and is starting to pull back. Michael, if tested, would fall into the “C” personality of the DISC assessment. He does not want to stop meeting with John, but he’s starting to get frustrated, feels like he’s not trusted or respected for his abilities. John senses that Michael doesn’t like sharing information and gets frustrated as well. The effectiveness of this bilateral relationship is beginning to suffer.


Michael’s Options:

  • Michael can suggest meeting less often, but why should John change his management style because one employee doesn’t like participating as much as the rest of the team does?

  • Michael can express to John that he feels micromanaged, but that does not always go over very well and could further hurt the relationship that is already under stress.

  • Michael can start to seek opportunities elsewhere because he’s just not happy with John’s management style and the grass is starting to look greener on another team or in a different company.


John’s Options:

  • John can address his concern at their next one-on-one meeting letting Michael know that he wants him to increase the amount of information he is sharing during their discussions, but that is only going to exacerbate Michael’s frustration.

  • John can ask Michael if he is unhappy in his job and then try to accommodate him to ensure he doesn’t leave, but that opens the door for rewarding negative behaviors instead of positive results, sending the wrong message to Michael and the rest of the team.

  • John can implement a new approach to management by proactively developing the most effective relationship he can with Michael, as well as between himself and each other member of his team.


DING DING DING, yes, we have a winner! By proactively approaching Michael with his plan to develop the most effective relationship between the two, both parties can negotiate the terms of their relationship. John reestablishes his role as the manager, rewards Michael with a voice and establishes an agreement that he can hold Michael accountable to.


Below are the steps John takes to put this path in motion:

  • During a team meeting with all five of John’s employees present, John expresses his interest in improving the one-on-one meeting process in order to accomplish the following objectives…John passes out a piece of paper to each employee outlining the objectives as he starts to review them. The objectives include:

    1. Weekly updates on individual deliverables- confirmation work is on time and on budget.

    2. Weekly updates on inter department & cross department issues-supporting the group objective to improve communication throughout the organization.

    3. Weekly updates on special projects, current and upcoming-ensuring effective resource allocation throughout the team.

    4. Weekly updates on support requirements-what help is needed from John or others.

    5. Weekly updates on skills development-actions taken in growth areas that John outlined for each individual.


  • John explains his goal is to work with each employee to develop the best way for those updates to happen. During the next series of one-on-one meetings, John would like the employee to propose the communication structure that works best for them. Although he is open to new ideas, John lets the team know that he prefers one-on-ones, weekly emails, or a combination of the two.


With this approach, John leads the process & dialog, sets the objectives & deliverables, is clear about his own needs & open to the needs and suggestions of each employee. He also uses this opportunity to formalize the skills development process that supports his Coaching style of management. If an employee falls short of meeting John’s objectives, he will feel very comfortable raising the issue and resolving it, pulling the employee into a mode of communication that John has more ability to direct…until the employee is ready to propose another option & be held accountable for it.


Regarding his employee Michael. Michael sees an opportunity to propose fewer one-on-one meetings combined with weekly reports. He even got John to agree to letting him work from home a half day every two weeks so he can better focus on getting John what he needs. He likes the agenda for their communication because it gives him an opportunity to hit every objective and prove to John that he can be trusted.



Even with the best of intentions and training, the ability to successfully impact an individual or work situation does not lie only within the agility of the manager’s skill set, instead, that skill set comes to life through the open door that a two-way relationship has created. Choosing this path can work at any stage of your management career and with any level of formal training you may or may not have. Effective relationships open the door for whatever comes your way.


I hope you are able to use these management tips to improve your team’s results. If you are interested in further professional development tools, please take a look at my workbook “4 Essential Skills for Leaders, Managers & High Potentials.” It will take you through a self-assessment of your abilities and guide you through a development plan to improve on weak areas. It also includes over 100 actions you can take to develop your skills right away. This workbook is a great coaching mechanism for your team by having employees take the assessment and discuss their development plan with you.


Good Luck!!




Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com   

Lisa, a thought leader in Business Management and Leadership, founded ManagingAmericans.com in 2011 after 20+ years successfully leading and driving growth in the corporate world. Her objective is to help mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors in a “do-it-yourself” learning environment using unique & practical tools to support the process. Lisa’s career spans from Global Sales & Marketing to General Management of Multinational Conglomerates. Today she continues to consult small business owners through her private practice. Lisa's publications include: • 4 Essential Skills for Leaders, Managers & High Potentials © 2013 • The Cross Functional Business: Beyond Teams © 2015 • Action Item List: Drive Your Team With One Simple Tool © 2016 • Small Business Planning Made Simple: What To Consider Before You Invest © 2017


What is a realistic success horizon for Leaders?