Here’s Why Leadership Control Is Toxic

I have been a strong advocate that the best leadership style in today’s world is to coach your team rather than control. Having learnt the power of coaching around 25 years ago, I have been training store and regional managers how to unleash the power of their teams through coaching since then.

However, there is still a belief with some senior and middle managers that they have to control rather than coach. They need to know all the answers and provide the direction to their teams for fear of mistakes being made. This leads to a lack of delegation, leaders having to work longer hours as they try and get everything done and feeling stressed. Not a great background to feel good about work and be able to perform each day.

A controlling leadership style also reduces the effectiveness of your team. They feel less confident to share their ideas, there’s less buy in as they haven’t been consulted (they are just told what to do) and this leads to a compliant workforce, rather than committed. A compliant team will do what they are told to do, but won’t share new ideas, go the extra mile and often perform at a lower level when the boss is not around.

A coaching leadership style does the opposite, it encourages team members to think for themselves, take more ownership and perform whether the boss is there or not. Team members become more resourceful as they find their own answers. Teams work better together as they engage in more dialogue and this creates more positive outcomes.

A coaching leadership style also reduces the pressure on senior and middle managers to always do the thinking and come up with the answers. Team members are better motivated and empowered to make more decisions. This creates massive buy in and dramatically increases productivity.

Coaching is certainly more challenging, it is so much easier and quicker to provide the solution, but the team learns very little from this interaction. The secret is coming up with a question or questions that will allow the team member to come up with the answer. There are a number of benefits to asking questions, which include:

  • Before the team member answers they have to think
  • The leader knows that the team member knows the answer – if they don’t, you can then tell them
  • There is higher buy in because the team members has come up with the answer
  • By saying the answer the team member is much more likely to remember rather than just being told what to do.

So, my challenge is to all retail leaders to move your leadership style from controlling to coaching, your team will love you for it and you’ll reap the many benefits.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.