Management style needs to change based on the situation

Every manager faces situations like this one: An employee is accountable for a achieving a given result but is struggling. The manager knows exactly how to achieve the desired result, so the question is: “Should I intervene and get it done myself?”

What could possibly be wrong with that?

Everything! This is an example of what we call the “Hands-On” managerial style, which more often that not dis-empowers employees and creates learned helplessness.

Caveat: In high-urgency situations the “Hands-On” style is appropriate. For example, imagine a salesperson has been unable to close a really big, really important account. The sales manager would rightly feel compelled to intervene and close the sale.

The most overused management style
But problems arise when bosses see urgency in EVERY situation and overuse the “Hands-On” style. Sometimes, the more competent the manager, the more likely they are to overdo it.

Managers are often promoted to positions of authority because they excel at certain activities. They’re great at sales. They’re exceptional engineers. They’re whizzes at accounting. What “Hands-On” managers overlook is that they got promoted so that they could replicate their competence in others. Problem is, when you overuse the “Hands-On” style, people don’t learn to solve problems themselves. They forever depend on you. And you ultimately fail to “get results through other people,” which is the core mission of management.

The antidote to the “Hands-On” style is the “Coaching” style. Successful leaders understand that good people desperately want to “own” their jobs and make a difference. They don’t want a boss who intervenes and “saves the day” every time they confront an obstacle. They want a boss who lets them make their own mistakes and empowers them to solve their own problems.

Fact is, to be successful, managers need to master a repertoire of managerial styles, and they must know when to deploy them based on the situation.

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