Leadership Versus Traditional Management

December 5, 2017 

Instant Offices Head of HR, Ciara McGrath, looks at how rigid traditional management styles are making way for leadership-based ones and how it impacts business today.

The workplace is changing as more businesses look for innovative solutions to attract and retain talent, increase performance and excel in today’s competitive market. As a result, the traditional hierarchal management style is slowly evolving into a more collaborative way of working.

This approach aims to empower employees, enhance mental ability and skill and improve communication between management and workers. More and more companies are adopting this approach, as corporate meetings and strategy sessions are being replaced by brainstorming, ‘crowd sourcing’, team building and training. The role of management is changing to flatter, more collaborative leadership styles as companies are finding ways to encourage creativity, productivity and overall happiness in the workplace.

Here’s a comparative look at the major differences between traditional and collaborative leadership styles in management.

Traditional Manager


Modern Manager


Hierarchal – Follows hierarchal system within the company to maintain order and control amongst employees.


Adaptable – Willing to seek new opportunities and adapt their style to suit the needs of the employees.


Authoritative – Demonstrates authority in decision making, delegation and creating order.


Authentic and supportive – Demonstrates a desire to encourage employees and creates an environment of support and understanding. Connects company goals with the goals of individuals.


Strict adherence to rules – Focussed on following protocols and policies with minimal room for flexibility. Results driven.


Flexible – Open to change and focussed on team dynamics and performance.


Maintains control over information – Adheres to ownership of information, sometimes willing to listen to ideas/suggestions from team members.


Open-minded – Openly shares information and knowledge, encourages collaboration, information sharing, ideas and opinions from team members.


Communication – Staff reviews are conducted annually or in accordance with the company policy. Communication with employees is formal.


Communication – Offer immediate and ongoing feedback to employees. Open door policy.


According to a survey conducted by Interact, 69% of managers are often uncomfortable communicating with their employees, while 37% admitted to being uncomfortable giving direct feedback about an employee’s performance. This is a direct contrast to what employees want, with 72% admitting that their performance would improve if their managers provided constructive criticism and positive feedback.

Additionally, a research study on American employees from Gallup found that 50% resign due to bad management. The study continues to show that having a ‘bad’ boss creates unhappiness in the office, adding stress and spreading negativity to their home life and families. According to the survey, “workers feel like they’re given little guidance for understanding what’s expected of them.”

As companies move towards creating a more collaborative workspace, the old hierarchal system seems to be on its way out, at least for companies open to change and willing to become more flexible and understanding of employee needs.

Leadership Trends Emerging in the Workplace

Understanding employee skills – As an individual, it is important to know your own abilities. As a manager, you need to understand and cultivate the skills and superpowers of the members of your team. The key here is to observe your team members closely and make notes of their strengths and weaknesses and unique qualities. Once you know enough about each team member, you can delegate tasks according to their skills and passion.

Implementing an open-door policy – Again, it is important to open the lines of communication within your team. A manager must be viewed as a trustworthy mentor as opposed to a boss. Make yourself 100% accessible to all employees. This could involve sharing your cell phone number or making your calendar public so that people know when to schedule meetings with you.

Creating core values that everyone believes in – Creating core values within the company and team will help drive daily decisions and set short and long-term goals. Through solid core values, your team members will make good decisions and thrive as a result.

Setting employees up for success – A good manager ensures that his/her team has everything they need to succeed. Foster a sense of development and growth within your organisation and assist with goal setting and prioritising. Providing employees with the correct tools will help them succeed in their roles.

Tips for Implementing a More Collaborative Leadership Style

  • Encourage growth – Good employees are keen to learn and grow within their company. Welcome and encourage your staff to develop their skills, give input and gain new experiences. Training programs and courses will provide helpful insight to employees looking to expand their skills and role within the company
  • Change your habits – The secret to success is developing good habits that make workflow more efficient and employees more productive. Leaders should be good role models to their staff, and by setting a good example, your employees will follow suit.
  • Communication is key – As the statistics show, communication is the root of any organisation. Try to encourage open communication between yourself and your employees and try to eradicate any feelings of intimidation or fear from your staff. Create an environment of respect and acceptance.

Traditional management today has served corporate environments well for many decades, but in today’s information age, competition is at an all-time high. New forms of leadership styles in management are emerging to ensure that your company evolves with the industry. By changing the norm, you could improve your standing in today’s challenging economic times. Or you could be left behind.

Collaborative leadership has taken over to become the future of business as it addresses concerns on all levels and offers solutions that result in improved productivity and satisfaction and, ultimately, increased business opportunities.


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