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Choosing the Right Management Style for Corporate Clients

by Christopher Hart, May 30, 2008

When working to achieve buy-in across a large corporation, managers must overcome indifference that often exists between different operating silos. In most cases, the key to success will rest on your ability to define the stakeholders within the corporate environment. These are the people who will have an impact on the projects outcome. Once the stakeholders are defined, it is your job to craft a message to show the tangible benefits and meaningful opportunities that will be realized with their department's involvement. Finally, you must carefully select your tactics. There are many battles in a project's life and not all are planned for in the same fashion.

It should also be noted that there is no specific order for defining stakeholders, projects goals and tactics. This must be determined through an iterative process throughout the life of the project as discoveries from one task will often lead to more accurate questions and solutions for others. As the search engine optimization project begins to take on a life of its own, the project manager must step in to effectively modulate its progress and lead at all costs. Truly effective managers do not lead as an assumption of their personality, but make strategic decisions and choices to address a specific challenge or situation.

The modern business environment is always fluid and changing. To achieve SEO buy-in across the multi-siloed environment a manager must use many different abilities and styles.

The manager's styles must reflect how the organization's culture can influence a project's result. In turn, different emotional intelligence competencies dovetail with the selection of the management style that is the best fit. For the purpose of our conversation, fit can be defined as the connection between different parties. For small companies this can be the connection to one person that wears all hats, or for large companies this can be the connection to the many different people across operating silos.

Emotional Intelligence is an individual's ability to use self awareness, self management, social awareness and social skills to manage ourselves. These terms can be defined as follows:

  • Self Awareness: The ability to understand ones emotions and their impact on the work environment. An accurate view of your strengths and weaknesses are essential to develop a strong measure of self-worth.
  • Self Management: The ability to keep your emotions and reflex reactions under control. When we maintain control, we can develop our honesty, commitment to our responsibilities, adaptability and initiative to drive towards our own standards.
  • Social Awareness: Your ability to sense others emotions and perspectives. We use this skill to feel the ebb and flow of an organization's life current to recognize and meet a projects needs.
  • Social Skills: Viewed as ones leadership ability to develop others around them through proper communication. In most cases we can properly initiate change to channel conflicts so as to build bonds through collaborative teamwork.

Understanding one's emotional intelligence enables us to define the proper management style for each situation. The six (6) management styles have been clearly defined over time as Coercive, Authoritative, Affinitive, Democratic, Pacesetting and Coaching.

  • Coercive: When a manager will demand immediate compliance to their will. An example is when a manager will yell that you will do what they tell you, not for any other reason than because they told you so. In almost all cases this should only be used in a crisis, since the long term effect on a team/group or project is very negative.
  • Authoritative: When a manager engages and mobilizes their staff. This is when a manager is saying, "Come with me, I have a vision." This will build confidence through the entire scope of the team and project. It's viewed as the most positive managing style.
  • Affinitive: When a manager tries to build emotional bonds through sympathetic communication. With an affinitive management style, the people that are part of the manager's team always come first. This is a positive style, especially when trying to heal or motivate people during times of stress, both in their work and personal environments.
  • Democratic: When a manager tries to build consensus because almost everyone has a vote. You seek out buy-in and input from all levels of the team. It is a positive style, but can also paralyze a team when a manager does not stand up and make the hard decisions.
  • Pacesetting: When a manager has very high performance expectations. There is an overwhelming internal drive to get results fast. This is a style that is best used with strategic decision, and only with the proper team. If you always try out pace your team or peers, it can have a negative impact. When properly used on projects with 'stretch goals' or very complex projects this is an effective way to facilitate a solution and that will have a positive impact on the team and project.
  • Coaching: When a manager sets developmental steps so as to mature their staff for the future. You help your team improve their performance through developing long term strengths. This is a positive style, but can only be implemented over time.

So in final, we can see that clearly defining the stakeholders, goals and tactics are only part of a cross corporation projects success. You must also have well-developed emotional intelligence and the ability to select from any of the six management styles depending on the environmental conditions. During the life cycle of the project you must keep re-evaluating the stakeholders, goals and tactics and your management styles for your interactions with the different business silos. Priorities and resource allocations change on a regular basis and the effective manager must have vision into these possibilities so as to alter their strategy.

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