Supervisory Styles


How is it that coaches succeed with some teams and fail with others? Why do players succeed with a team after failing with previous teams? Why do successful executives fail at their next position?

There are obviously many models that endeavour to explain why this happens, but I particularly like the notion that the style adopted by a supervisor must match the competence of the employees supervised.

For instance, managers used to delegating responsibilities to their reports will do well with a well trained and competent team. These managers will provide the necessary resources to the team, come to an agreement as to what it means to succeed, and stay out of the team’s way.

The same style will fail dismally if the team is composed of newcomers with a low skill set who need to be taught the fundamentals. The team will require a supervisor with a very controlling and directing style. Allowing the team independence is allowing the team and the manger to fail. Similarly, a directing style will fail with a team composed of competent and self motivated professionals capable of directing themselves.

Far too frequently managers rely on their default style and make no adjustment for the staff they are supervising. When things turn bad, these managers may resort to criticism, temper tantrums or threats in an effort to achieve different results.

Consider adjusting your style to the capabilities of the people you are supervising. Sometimes different people on the team will require a different style until their competence level changes.