Peter Zieve knows that when deliberating career success, the most tangible qualities, like work type and salary, often come to mind. However, one crucial consideration to your success at a high-tech small business is leadership style, which includes how you like to be managed and how you manage your staff. The most effective leaders improve employee morale and productivity while reducing turnover.
Peter Zieve has identified several management styles that best fit the small business environment, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Entrepreneurs can utilize more than one style based on what best fits the culture and business.
Keep reading to learn more about which styles best suit high-tech, small businesses.
Peter Zieve finds that autocratic managers are best able to make unilateral decisions without the input of subordinates. This format is often considered a good management technique when the right decisions are made and leaders to quicker decision-making because only one preference is being considered.
However, Peter Zieve notes that this management style can drive away those employees looking to make decisions and have more accountability. In time-sensitive critical situations, autocratic management skills are acceptable and welcomed, however over extended periods, this management style can lead to a higher turnover rate.
This interesting management type is a direct style that requires leaders to utilize a ‘winner takes all,’ highly competitive strategy toward the business. This is also commonly referred to as a conventional or top-down management style. Depending on the personality of the leader, this could be an effective leadership trait in a small business to make a mark against the larger competition.
One of the greatest benefits of this style is rallying the team around the concept of beating the competition. This can be a highly motivational tactic for employees and requires great speeches to get the team pumped up. The downside to this approach is it is not for the faint of heart. While it may appeal to some, it won’t appeal to all and it could turn off talented employees.
Another management style Peter Zieve has found effective is the consultative type who holds more of a discussion than the autocratic, instant decision-making style. As the name indicates, the leader consults with employees and ultimately makes decisions based on their feedback. These decisions often consider the best interests of the employees but maintain a focus on the business goals and objectives.
The consultative management system leads to a higher loyalty from employees because they are empowered to contribute to the decision-making process. However, employees left out of this group are more likely to move on to other companies or departments. Peter Zieve also notes that this style also leads to the dependency of employees on their superiors.
As the name says, democratic leaders give employees the chance to fully engage in the decision-making process. This means all decisions are reviewed and agreed upon by most of the selected group. The flow of communication transfers from the top to managers to employees and back up to the top. This is a great style when complicated decisions must be made that could have various outcomes. However, democratic decision-making significantly slows down the process and is inefficient when snap decisions are required.
The effort-based management style focuses on accomplished work rather than following procedures. This is another common type that is successful at startup companies that may not have many set procedures and processes but focus on the result. In many instances, this style utilizes project management software to monitor quality, key dates, resources, and deliverables.
One positive aspect of this style is employees are motivated by their projects and may be able to choose what they work on. One negative aspect is that metrics and quality assurance are required to ensure all projects are managed and assigned within the customer requirements, budget, and required timing.
Good Parent Management Style
Peter Zieve has found the good parent management style to be incredibly successful within small businesses because the owner runs the business family. This type treats all employees like family members regardless of their relationships and job titles. Everyone is an equal partner and has equal input into decisions and ideas.
One benefit of this style is employees feel like they are cared for on an individual level and not just drone workers. This typically motivates them to be more proactive in helping the company achieve its goals. The only real downside is it rarely works beyond the small business environment. That means, as your company grows, you cannot get to know every single employee on a personal level.
Peter Zieve says this management style is the opposite of autocracy, thus allowing employees to make most decisions with a manager offering guidance when required. In this instance, the manager is not considered a leader but more of a mentor. This is a popular management system within startup technology companies because there is a small group of employees whereas it would be too dysfunctional at a large multinational corporation. Smaller businesses tend to take more risk and this style supports risk-taking. The main drawback is this approach can lead to difficulties in decision-making which could slow down emergency decisions.
Lead by Example
Leading by example is a successful management style common in small business environments. Department heads and small business owners use this style when onboarding new employees or developing existing employees for leadership roles. This model focuses on the behavior you want your employees to assume by being a walking example.
This style is excellent for any industry ranging from customer service companies, where you want the staff to demonstrate effective listening, problem-solving skills, and empathy, to contracting where you want employees to follow your example regarding safety and quality of craftsmanship.
The greatest benefit of this style is it is easy to implement if you are an expert in the field and have a strong work ethic. The main downside is that missteps and mistakes you make will be repeated by employees. After all, you are human! You must walk the fine line between showing a positive work ethic but not behaving in a way your employees will replicate.
Manage by Walking Around (MBWA)
MBWA is a classic technique that involves managers simply listening to their employees. This is another excellent strategy for small tech companies where there are a few numbers of employees and is implemented at the large company level within individual departments. The idea is leaders gather information by listening to the ideas, concepts, strategies, and data presented by employees so issues can be eliminated at the source.
This management style allows leaders to act as counselors, not directors. Good decisions are well-received and respected by all who are involved. When employees are unsupportive of management, the MBWA method does not work well.
Like the autocratic management type, a persuasive leader makes the final decision on a situation. However, those choices are made from the persuasion of their employees. Subordinates will convince the leader of the benefits of making certain decisions and the manager will take all information into account to make the end decision.
This to be an excellent option for leaders who need input from their experts but can keep the final decision with them. This is another style that does not work well when management is unsupported by employees and chooses not to trust the decisions made or provide input.
Servant Management Style
Often found in small high-tech companies, the servant management style is one where leadership serves customers and employees. This style is used for employees on a more personal level and is like the other more relaxed styles like democratic and laissez-faire.
For instance, a servant leader does not see themselves as having power over employees but as one who works for their employees so they can be successful. Their behavior demonstrates that employees are important assets to the company and puts them first, knowing if their needs are satisfied, the customer will be satisfied, and the business will be successful. This management style falls in line with the saying, a happy employee is a productive employee.
The main benefit of this style is customers and employees feel like their ideas are heard and needs will be met. The downside to this type is employees could take advantage of leadership.
Strategic managers always focus on the long-term, big-picture vision of the firm and brand. Peter Zieve knows that these managers must effectively communicate the vision to their employees but seek feedback on how to reach that goal. This style involved looping customers, staff, and management into the planning process and gaining additional knowledge from each function.
Strategic managers tend to be more hands-off once the vision has been transferred to those executing it. They are the opposite of micromanagers because once the idea is determined and communicated, they trust their employees to execute the goal.
This type communicates ideas well and empowers employees to be proud of the idea or vision, so they are more motivated to work on the project. On the other hand, Peter Zieve has found that this style can fail to be detail-oriented.
After reading through this list of management styles that could be appropriate for a high-tech startup company, you may have realized that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in regard to managing your company. Most managers utilize a variety of tactics across multiple styles to be successful. Determining your management type begins with identifying your temperament, personality traits, and business requirements.
Given that you are human, you can change your behavior regardless of your natural style or personality. However, selecting leadership styles that best suit your personality and business needs allow you to improve upon your self-awareness and interpersonal skills to help employees thrive while growing the business.
About Peter Zieve
With a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington, Peter Zieve founded Electroimpact in July 1986 to commercialize Low Voltage Electromagnetic Riveting technology that he invented during his research. He envisioned Electroimpact as an engineering haven driven by pride of achievement to push for commercial and technical success. Peter Zieve uses more of a Laissez-Faire management style where engineers are involved in all aspects of each project from concept to negotiations to production.
Peter’s interest in technical concepts began at 23 when he was part of a research group developing a unique style of an industrial filter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As part of the group, he convinced two MIT grad students that the three of them should start a company. In April 1977, the group founded its first company.
After starting Electroimpact in 1986, Peter attended the 1986 Fastec conference in Anaheim, CA where he presented a white paper on new manufacturing techniques. Soon after the conference, Northrop purchased his first manufacturing system. One of Peter’s greatest strategies for success is keeping updated on the latest aircraft manufacturing technology that he can implement into his processes.
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