Preferred Management Style for Professionals?

Situational Leadership
Knowledge Center

Manager, India

Preferred Management Style for Professionals?

What is the preferred management style for handling a team of professionals? Why?

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Preferred Style for Managing Professionals

According to the situational leadership model, we should adapt our management style to the situation, in particular to the development level of the employees. This development level of the employees depends on 2 main variables: competence in the task (area) and commitment to the task (area).

1. You start by examining their competence. Your team is composed of professionals. Assuming they are operating inside their domain of expertise, they have a moderate or even high level of competence in their task areas. So they fall in category D3 or D4 in the picture of the summary of Situational Leadership and the matching management style is either S3 or S4.

2. Now you consider their commitment to the task area:
If their task commitment/motivation is high, then they should be seen as D4 and the preferred management style would be S4: Delegating. In this situation, both the directive and the supportive behavior of the manager can be and should be low.
- If their task commitment/motivation is variable or moderate, they should be regarded D3, so your preferred management style would be S3: Participating/Supporting. In this situation, the directive behavior of the manager should be low, and the manager should focus on the relationship, supporting such professionals.

Note 1: You can find another angle to how you should manage professionals in the discussion "How can you Motivate Knowledge Workers?" which focuses on giving knowledge professionals a sense of making progress in meaningful work. Ultimately this approach arrives at the same conclusion as the above: TASK AUTONOMY AND PERSONAL SUPPORT.
Note 2: See also this best practice on Team Coaching of Smart Creatives in innovative firms.

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