Yeah, you heard it right, "dumpster diving" is a leadership strategy. Let me explain.
There are many different types of leaders and leadership styles. I want to discuss the top six here, and the picture of me diving into our dumpster illustrates one of those styles.
1. AUTOCRATIC STYLE
"Do as I say" (Not necessarily as I do.)
Generally, an autocratic leader believes that he or she knows more than others. Therefore, they make all the decisions with little input from team members. There are times when this approach is appropriate. You can dip into an autocratic leadership style when crucial decisions need to be made on the spot and you have the most knowledge about the situation. It also works when you're dealing with inexperienced team members, and there's no time to wait for them to gain familiarity with their role.
But generally speaking, these types of leaders do not garner many loyal followers and often have people questioning their decisions because they had no input.
It can be especially ineffective if the leader spends a lot of time away from the office and problems arise that they are not helping to solve. You see this a lot with second-generation business owners who were not part of building the company but were handed the operation and did not "pay their dues" to gain the respect of their employees.
2. AUTHORITATIVE STYLE
"Visionary" - "Follow Me"
The authoritative leadership style is the mark of confident leaders who map the way and set expectations while engaging and energizing followers along the way.
In a climate of uncertainty, these leaders lift the fog for people. They help them see where the company is going and what's going to happen when they get there.
Unlike autocratic leaders, authoritative leaders take the time to explain their thinking: They don't just issue orders. Most of all, they allow people's input on how to achieve common goals.
3. DEMOCRATIC STYLE
"What do you think?"
Democratic leaders share information with employees about anything that affects their work responsibilities and seek employees' opinions before approving a final decision. The benefit of this participative leadership style is that it can create trust and promote team spirit and cooperation from employees. In addition, it allows for creativity and helps employees grow and develop. If done effectively, a democratic leadership style gets people to do what you want to be done but in a way that they want to do it.
The risk, however, is if the decisions made do not lead the company in a direction the leader wants it to go. It can take a lot of influencing to redirect a team going in the wrong direction and get them to see the error in their ways and correct it.
4. COACHING STYLE
A leader who coaches views people as a reservoir of talent to be developed. A coach approach seeks to unlock people's potential.
Leaders who use a coaching style open their hearts and doors for people. They believe that everyone has power within themselves. A coaching leader gives people a little direction to help them tap into their ability to achieve all that they're capable of. This type of leader is usually very hands-off and lets the team manage their own areas. It can be effective but can also be very unproductive.
5. LAISSEZ-FAIRE STYLE
This leadership style involves the least amount of oversight. On one end, the autocratic style leader stands as firm as a rock on issues, while the laissez-faire leader lets people swim with the current.
On the surface, a laissez-faire leader may appear to trust people to know what to do, but taken to the extreme, an uninvolved leader may end up appearing aloof. While it's beneficial to give people opportunities to spread their wings, with a total lack of direction, people may unwittingly drift in the wrong direction—away from the critical goals of the organization.
This style can work if you're leading highly skilled, experienced employees who are self-starters and motivated. To be most effective with this style, it is necessary to monitor team performance and provide regular feedback.
6. PACE-SETTING STYLE
"Do as I do!"
This is the style that works best for me. This style describes a very driven leader who sets the pace as in racing. Pacesetters set the bar high and push their team members to run hard and fast to the finish line.
I have always believed that I should never ask anyone to do something that I have not done before or are willing to do now. For example, when I started my company, I was a one-man show who did sales, customer service, accounting, toilet cleaning, and anything else that needed to be done. I worked 10-12 hours a day and was relentless in my pursuit of success and perfection.
As we have grown, I have backed off a bit in weekly hours worked, but I still go out of my way to try to set a high bar in everything that I do. That includes occasionally cleaning the bathrooms or even diving into the dumpster for an item that got accidentally thrown away. I want my staff to know that every task that needs to be done is important and that they should be willing to do it to the best of their ability. If I am willing to do the "crappy" jobs, then everyone else should also be.
For our culture, this has been very successful in creating a real team approach where we know we are all in this together.
Now, this style is not all positive. While it is effective in getting things done and driving for results, it's a style that can hurt team members. Even the most driven employees may become stressed working under this style of leadership if they feel that the expected pace is just too high or that they can never live up to the leader's expectations.
The key to the success of this style is for the leader to back off from time to time and let the team recharge.
There are other styles of leadership, but these six are the most common.
Personally, I feel the ideal leader has a good mixture of all of these. Depending on the situation, wise leaders know how and when to flex from one style to another. There are times when it is appropriate to be a dumpster diver, but there are also times when you need to be a decision-maker or visionary.
Allowing your team to participate in the decision-making process is very valuable to getting buy-in, as long as you control the flow so that the end decision is in line with your objective as a leader.
The most effective leaders are very agile and know when to employ the proper style.