Structural leaders tend to be analytical thinkers whose strengths lie in improvement through procedural changes. Their approach is measured and methodical, and as a result, Standard Operating Procedures and process details are their friends. Their employees appreciate the clarity around these processes and procedures, and they know exactly what is expected of them.
On the other hand, structural leaders can easily become bogged down by the details, and they are sometimes seen as inflexible or “stuffy.” Because they spend so much time working out the finer details of the company’s processes, it’s often difficult for structural leaders to keep up with rapid changes to the company’s customers’ or employees’ needs. They run the risk of turning the company into a big, lumbering dinosaur while the competition passes it by.
Entrepreneurial leaders are “big thinker” types whose strengths lie in innovation and flexibility. Their approach is much more fluid, and they rely on conversations with employees, colleagues, and customers to come up with a game plan. They’re fast on their feet, and they’re not afraid to take risks if they think the market will be responsive. Their vision tends to be long-term, and they are the ones who can be counted on to steer the company towards up-and-coming markets.
The downside of entrepreneurial leadership is that these leaders can lose sight of important details while they paint the bigger picture. They can get a reputation for being flighty and for having their heads in the clouds. Their employees may become confused and frustrated, never quite knowing what’s going on at any given time, and quality control can slip away in the haze.
The Best of Both Worlds
If you find that you lean more towards structural leadership, keep doing what you’re doing right: Methodically examining situations and developing clear processes to solve both large and small problems within the company while communicating those processes to your employees. But when it comes to innovation and steering employees towards a bigger picture, consider giving employees and colleagues more room to chat with you and amongst themselves informally—and don’t shoot down “pie in the sky” suggestions just because you can’t yet see all the steps it’ll take to get there. Reward employees not only for a job well done but also for ideas put forward, regardless of whether they produce tangible results.
If you find that you’re more of an entrepreneurial leader, don’t go entirely against your nature. Keep engaging colleagues and employees to make them a part of the visioning process. However, also learn when to set those dreams aside and get to the nitty gritty of filling in the gaps too. List the steps it’ll take to get to that next level, and then determine what needs to be done at every level of the company to make sure it all goes as smoothly as possible. This may involve changes to marketing plans, strategic plans, and Standard Operating Procedures. And of course, don’t forget to tell your staff once you’ve got it figured out.
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