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Behavior from the Top will be Emulated Among Other Leaders

Direct reports say he has an autocratic style and micromanages everyone and everything.

One of my new coaching clients is a plant manager who is struggling with high turnover on his team. He is fabulous on the metrics side — getting quality product out the door — but is falling down on the people side of the business.

Direct reports say he has an autocratic style and micromanages everyone and everything. When the human resources business partner was discussing the situation with me, I asked her to describe the styles of his previous bosses.

Yep, autocratic and micromanagers.

My client has been with this company for 10 years. Luckily, in our initial conversations he realized he needs to shift his style and is very open to learning and trying new ways to lead, manage and motivate.

Think about what kinds of leaders you are growing. This is especially important as we all continue to work in the hybrid or virtual space. In a July 2020 Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review article by Sharon Parker, Caroline Knight and Anita Keller on remote managers trusting their team members, the authors recommended several ideas based on their research of 1,200 people in 24 countries.

The No. 1 recommendation is to look at what’s happening at the highest level. What behaviors are being modeled at the top? In their research, the managers who struggled with leading remote teams had low job autonomy as well as excessively controlling and low-trust bosses — which begets more of the same and can lead to more turnover in a time when every organization is desperately trying to hold on to talent.

Other suggestions the authors offer include:

  • Provide practical support for remote working (the right equipment, training, etc.).
  • Educate managers on the potential benefits of remote workers.
  • Train managers to “check in” not “check on” — learn skills of delegation and empowerment.
  • Train managers how to manage by results.

So, as we finish out another year of dealing with the pandemic and remote or hybrid work, be mindful of the kinds of leaders you are growing. Focus on building trust, maintaining a positive work culture and growing empathetic leaders.


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