The workplace isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing! It’s rare these days in a modern office to see stuffy, unapproachable suits in inaccessible offices running the show. Offices are becoming more open in every way – open floor plans, remote teams spreading across the globe, and more open communication. This is sending much of the autocratic, “old boys club” brand of executives into extinction. So who’s filling the power void? More authentic, approachable leadership styles are emerging. Here are four of the distinct characters you’ll meet in business leadership today, and some tips for how to get on their good side.
1) The digital leader
Digital leaders are open with their staff and forward-thinking about how technology can help further their business. They’re extremely connected on all social media channels, although their savviness also often means they know how to set appropriate digital boundaries for themselves and their staff. These trailblazers are on the cutting edge of tech, and are early adopters of new gadgets and software to improve connectivity in the workplace.
For digital leaders, mobility is key, as they are connecting team members all over the world remotely. It makes sense: the number of people telecommuting in the US increased 115% between 2005 and 2015 and remote job listings increased 52% over the last two years.
Digital leaders use video communication regularly for all long-distance meetings with interactive features like polls, including video in e-mails, and always webcasting major town-hall meetings. Webcasting is popular among digital leaders as an effective way to engage remote and on-the-go staff members, both on a practical level but also on a personal level. Workers tend to agree: 94% of employees say webcasting makes executives more relatable and personal, and it makes leaders feel more authentic to staff who may have never met them in person.
Tips for working with this style boss: Approach your digital leader boss with new tech ideas, don’t wait for them to be thrust upon you! Digital leaders love to hear about ways of utilizing technology that they may not have thought of. Of course, it’s important to have a positive attitude about adopting new tech and be an example for teammates in expressing enthusiasm for how tech can enhance your team’s efforts. If the digital leader is the dancer in this video, be their first follower!
2) The data diva
Data divas love data and use it to support all of their business decisions. The more supporting data a course of action has, the more likely a digital diva is to choose it. Similarly, data divas are reluctant to make decisions without gathering data first, and they’re unlikely to seriously consider claims that are not supported by sufficient findings.
Data divas love to hire consultants or external agencies to gather research on their companies’ processes or behaviors. Internal mechanics are not a matter of course for data divas – they are to be examined and adjusted according to facts on the ground and actual efficiency findings.
Data divas are the growing majority, in fact. Over 65% of C-suite leaders said that if their businesses don’t embrace use of big data, they risk becoming obsolete.
Tips for working with this style boss: Obviously, bring data! If you’re making a status report, bring precise numbers related to your work, whether that’s the number of clients served, revenue, time spent on project phases, and more. Go above and beyond by taking this further and tracking your progress over time before being asked, and set goals for yourself, both short and long term, based on your hard performance numbers so far.
3) The young entrepreneur
A product of the modern age, young entrepreneurs are scrappy and forward-thinking, drawn to new, shiny technology and modes of running a business (young entrepreneurs are often also digital leaders!). On the flip side, the young entrepreneur loathes doing things “because that’s just how they’re done.” Tradition alone is not justification for anything for the young entrepreneur.
This type of leader embraces change and new ideas, and can turn on a dime when it comes to abandoning harmful, outdated, or sluggish company policies. They loathe “workflows” and “processes” and unnecessary steps or bureaucracy.
Young entrepreneurs take time very seriously and advocate for efficiency, delegation, and trimming the fat. They’re not likely to call meetings for their own sake, or much at all, and for good reason: an estimated $37 billion is wasted each year in unproductive meetings. People spend 4 hours per week on average preparing for status update meetings, and executives consider 67% of meetings to be failures and a waste of their time. So, young entrepreneurs often multi-task their conversations while they’re on the go.
Tips for working with this style boss: Young entrepreneurs crave creativity and forward thinking from their teams. They tend to have an open door for team members who have new fresh ideas, and it can be a way to impress them and move up quickly. Refrain from complaining without offering a solution, however! Young entrepreneurs are solution-minded, and don’t appreciate being presented a problem without an accompanying suggested fix, even if they end up going in another direction.
4) The mega mentor
Mega mentors are super team-minded and get enormous satisfaction from the success of their direct-reports. These big-hearted business leaders consider it a status symbol if many of their hires move up in the company, spreading their influence into new branches or higher levels.
In the day to day, mega mentors go out of their way to set up regular 1:1s with their staff, and they take attendance and full participation in these meetings very seriously. Accordingly, they are diligent about annual (or semi-annual… or monthly… or weekly…) reviews, and expect avid-note taking from their staff regarding their feedback and very timely implementation of their advice.
The mega mentor pursues team-building activities and outings with enthusiasm, and they’re likely to try new and sometimes unorthodox approaches to enhance employee growth, whether through activities (ropes course, anyone?), assigned reading, inviting innovative speakers, and more.
Employees of a mega mentor are lucky – a Harvard Business Review study found that 84% of CEO mentees felt that mentoring helped them become proficient in their roles faster, 69% felt it helped them make better decisions, and 71% felt their whole business benefited as a result of mentoring.
Tips for working with this style boss: Mega mentors especially value when employees take pride in their work and help out new teammates, so step up to the plate when it comes to leading the welcome wagon or helping a newbie out of a bind. These leaders have low-tolerance for lack of growth or change when they give proper feedback or instructions. So, try to be introspective and self-aware, and anticipate feedback before it is given, and apply suggestions at almost all costs, and you’ll go far with this boss! Also, the mega mentor loves a good motivational quote!
The first step to getting in with your boss is figuring out what kind of leadership style they have. Is it one of these four? Is it a more old-fashioned approach? A close, productive relationship with your supervisor is key to your success in your current job and beyond (references, both good and bad, follow you around for years to come!), so it’s worth investing time in getting into your boss’s head, and then into their good graces.
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