Managers’ failure to adapt leadership styles demotivating for staff

More than half of UK business leaders are creating demotivating working environments because they are struggling to cope with the pressures of the ongoing economic crisis.

This is according to management consultancy Hay Group, which has today published research into leadership and what it calls “working climates”. The results of the research have led the company to call for managers to adopt more varied leadership styles in order to drive performance.

Hay Group said good leadership is synonymous with a flexible approach, but the research found that 38% of managers who responded to the survey have adopted none or only one leadership style, compared with only 24% who said they have adopted a range of four or more styles of leadership.

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As a result of this, Hay Group said that only 18% of leaders had been able to create high-performance environments for their employees, while more than half (53%) had generated demotivated working climates.

Melody Moore, a consultant at Hay Group, said: “A leader’s behaviour is the single biggest factor influencing the team working environment.

“Good leadership has the power to energise, engage and motivate staff to go the extra mile for their organisation. Poor leadership will have the opposite effect, creating a demotivating environment and leading, in time, to poor team performance – including high staff turnover and frequent absences.

“With the country facing ongoing economic uncertainty, it is crucial that UK leaders master the full arsenal of styles in order to get the best from their people and drive all important growth.”

According to the research, use of what Hay Group called a coercive “just do it” style is rising among leaders, and has now been adopted by 26% of leaders, a rise of 10% since 2005.

Moore added: “The coercive style is extremely effective in a crisis, creating clarity about expectation and ensuring the correct actions are taken quickly.

“But a crisis is an event, not a prolonged state. Over-reliance on a coercive leadership style is unsustainable over the long term, eroding innovation and creativity among employees. It is therefore concerning to see a crisis mentality begin to take root in the leadership teams of the UK’s firms.”

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