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Japanese vs. American management style

Two teams of American and Japanese corporations have a boat race. On the big day the Japanese win by a mile.

 The discouraged Americans hire a consulting firm to investigate the problem. The findings are that the Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering while the American team had one rower and eight people steering. Based on these results, the American team is completely reorganized to include four steering managers, four steering area managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive. 

The following year the Japanese win again, so the Americans lay off the rower for poor performance and give the manager a bonus for discovering the problem.

 A large component that makes for the success and failure of teams is a direct result of the management style employed by the immediate boss.

Hire and Fire Vs Coaching

Proactive Vs Reactive

Open door Vs Closed door etc. etc., you can continue this list to define the many managers you might have come across in your own careers.

Which is better? Which is worse? Well, that’s a call you have to take.

But right now let’s look at some classic examples and take a closer look at how to deal with them.

But first, the basics:-

What is a Management Style?

A Management Style is a set of characteristic ways of making decisions and relating to subordinates.

It is the kind of interaction that a manager chooses to have with his team.

It’s not uncommon to hear epithets that paint the corporate world red when it comes to such references – ‘khadoos’, stingy / ‘kanjoos’ ( especially after poor ratings at appraisals), no-nonsense, task master ( aka a circus ka ring master),  hitler etc. etc.

Of course, we have omitted the more unflattering references for decency’s sake here!

And so it is that our management styles define us and play a definitive role in creating our reputations.

Let’s look at a broad categorization of management styles.

We can divide them into 3 main categories :- autocratic, paternalistic, and democratic.

Autocratic : Let them know who’s the boss!

Well, if you work for a manager who comes across as a reincarnation of Hitler, then this is the way to define him/her.

I bet, you will learn soon enough that the best way to survive here is to say “Yes Boss!”

An autocratic manager can be sniffed out from far away. He/ She will be stern, a man or woman of few words, will determine every task, how it will be done to the last ‘T’ and ensure that it gets done in just the way he/she wants.

Forget about offering your ‘ideas’ however brilliant they may seem to you.

You might as well be happy with toeing the line.

A sub-group of this type is a Directive manager- As the title suggests, he/she ‘directs’. Period!
Woe behold any character in this corporate stage who strays out of line!

 Paternalistic:  The Big Daddy!

Such a boss will be just like your dad. You know, delegate tasks, encourage you to do it and find every way in the book to let you know how you are wrong ( read ‘inexperienced’) and how it ought to be done in a better way.

You will have a limited say and you might as well use it to the maximum.

Of course, if you do succeed, you will be patted on the back for sure!

An offshoot of this style is the Affiliative Manager.
He/She will be ready to sit with you for a cup of coffee and discuss over a working lunch if needed.

Democratic : Above equals!

This kind of boss believes in group dynamics, communication, ideating and working together ( and all such modern phrases !)

Good for you if you get one like this.

You will learn to work in a team, be encouraged to think and receive recognition for your good work easily.

A democratic boss will give you freedom to live and let live and get the work done.

Such a manager will be ‘Participative’ and ‘Pace Setting’

You will find encouragement when you need it, a push when you get lazy, a hand when you’re down and most importantly, a vision when you can’t see ahead.

Of course, while the last type seems ideally a ‘cooler’ boss to work for, make no mistake.

Some tasks may require a manager to be paternalistic and even autocratic, for a period and a time. Or, a combination of these 3 in different phases!

It is for the manager to know when to be what!

Meanwhile for those who are at the receiving end……….. share a laugh with this poor chap- the carrot or the stick:)

Training & Human Development is an on-going formation process. While some start early and it shows in their leadership and their interactions, a vast majority need some help.

From schools to colleges, small to large firms, individuals to groups - training modules can be designed to address issues that need attention.

Meanwhile, read on to learn something new!

To know about our modules please click here  and to see what some of the attendees have to say click here

Accountability – a Leadership Trait

A wise alec defined ‘accountability’ as ‘a personal choice to demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving exceptional results’.

In ‘aam aadmi’ terminology what it means is ‘own up’ or become ‘out-standing’! ‘Out’ being the key word here… out of the job that is.

Everyone, especially your boss loves someone who is accountable, someone who can take the lead and the blame if necessary. No work shirkers here!

Being accountable is simply that – ready to take the credit and the blame.

One of the reasons the common man fears the word ‘accountable’ is this - When heads roll in the corporate boardrooms, they usually belongs to one Mr. or Ms. Accountable.

Yet, there is none more loved than the one who masters this fine art.

Let’s see just how one can go about getting there.

Accountabiity has four aspects

Being Responsible
Quite simple really! Being accountable it being responsible – for the job, for the task, for the work to be done.
A responsible employee is one who is serious and careful about discharging his duties to the best of his abilities. It means being the one to ensure the task at hand is completed.

Being Answerable

Actually many folks want to be given the responsibility but do not want to be answerable to their superiors and stakeholders. Being answerable means you have to give explanations and the reasoning behind the strategies and decisions you have made. It’s not such a bad thing and actually makes you want to think before you do anything.
Being Trustworthy
Being entrusted a task or a job by your superior means he thinks you can do it!  Now that’s an encouraging thought, if you ask me.

Being Liable

Here’s where most folks get stuck! Especially if the job has legal implications, it makes us all want to run away…. Being liable is taking the responsibility bit a little more farther. It means shouldering the impact and the result of the decisions you have made.

Are Teams immune from accountability?.
A lot of folks think, and erroneously so, that working in a team shelters them from being accountable. So in the event of failure, the blame would rest equally on all members.

 But "Delegating responsibility does not relinquish personal accountability",

Teamwork, if anything, does not really reduce accountability. All it does is makes every member of the team a part of the accountability process.

However, the team leader or manager takes the final bow here.

Failure or success, he gets shot…..

……………and the team gets another head, if he has to go!

To do or not to do!
Accountability is also not limited to our actions but also a lack of it.

If you’re thinking, “I cannot be held accountable for something I’ve not done”, well, think again.

‘It is not only what we do but also what we do not do for which we are accountable’ said John Moliere

A good leader, is always accountable for the decisions or tasks he has done and what he has failed to do – the sins of omission and commission, so to speak.

So, Being Accountable is good. It is a necessary trait of a good leader.











Effective ………that’s an Accountable Leader.

Excellence Engineered