The right leadership style can greatly impact workplace productivity, employee morale, and employee turnover. In fact, it’s no stretch to say that your leadership style is the single most critical social factor in the culture of your business.
Recently, more executives have turned to supportive leadership styles, which offer extra personal and resource support for their employees. Today, let’s explore what supportive leadership is and some supportive leadership styles you can use to boost morale in your workplace.
What Is Supportive Leadership?
Put simply, supportive leadership is leadership where an executive or manager doesn’t just delegate tasks. Instead, the executive may still delegate tasks, but directly or indirectly support their employees in completing said tasks.
Here’s an example so you can better grasp supportive leadership styles:
- In one scenario, the executive hands out daily assignments to their employees. They then retreat to their office to handle their work.
- In a supportive leadership scenario, the executive hands out daily assignments and tells the employees to come to them if they have any questions. They leave their office door open to receive queries. In addition, the supportive executive regularly asks their employees if they require more resources, extra clarification, etc.
As you can see, the main difference between standard and supportive leadership styles is continued engagement on the part of the manager. With a supportive leadership style, the manager continues to be a part of the process even though they delegate work to their employees as usual.
When practiced correctly, supportive leadership can result in major workplace morale improvements, as well as increased productivity. Why? Supportive leadership shows your employees that:
- You value them by continuing to engage with them
- You know what you’re asking of them by offering additional resources or clarification when needed
- You have not abandoned them with the hardest work by staying present and engaged
In essence, supportive leadership is the simplest way to “walk the walk” as a manager rather than just “talk the talk.”
What Are Some Supportive Leadership Styles To Boost Morale?
However, supportive leadership styles come in many different flavors. Let’s break down five supportive leadership styles to consider developing in your executive skill set in the future.
1. Personable Mentor Style
The first supportive leadership style is that of a personable, one-on-one mentor. This is also one of the most common supportive leadership styles practiced by managers or executives of small businesses, especially small business owners.
With this leadership style, you operate as a personal mentor to each of your employees (if possible). You teach them new skills, give them time to ask questions, and check in frequently to make sure they fully grasp the tasks you assigned and that they are comfortable.
It’s easy to see how this can improve workplace morale. It automatically shows your employees that you care about how they feel and the work they do, but in a way that’s above and beyond what many distant executives project.
2. “Aces in Their Places” Style
Alternatively, you might pursue a supportive leadership style that focuses on correct personnel delegation and assignment. As you get to know your team and employees, you’ll figure out:
- Which employees are best where
- What jobs employees enjoy (and what jobs employees dislike)
- How to balance both of those elements
Say that you have an undesirable job that has to be done every week. But you also know that each position at your company is best filled by someone who loves the work or does the best job. To support your employees, you have everyone do the undesirable job on a rotating basis (say, everyone does it once per month). The rest of the time, your employees get to do the things they are best at. By “putting the aces in their place,”, you’ll improve not just your business’s bottom line but also the morale of your employees. This is a great way to avoid management blindness, where one or more of your employees suffers since you don’t know who does what.
3. Hands-Off, Approachable Style
Supportive leaders don’t have to be too hands-on. Instead, they can be the opposite, so long as they are approachable. If you have a team full of confident, capable employees, one of the best ways to support them may be just to let them do their work with as minimal interruption as possible. Don’t be a meddling executive or middle manager. At the same time, be approachable and allow your employees to ask you for assistance or more information when needed. If you are hands-off but approachable, you signal confidence in your people but also give them enough room to request support when they need it.
4. One of the Crew Style
This management style has you work in the trenches with your employees, often doing many of the same things as them. Think of a restaurant owner who doesn’t just do the books. They also:
- Act as a chef or fry cook when needed
- Host or bus people from their tables
- Serve guests as a waiter or waitress
This is an effective supportive leadership style for obvious reasons. When you do the same jobs as your employees, you know how they struggle, the pain points of each position, and where things could (and should) be improved more quickly. This is great for morale, but it’s also stellar for improving long-term workplace culture. Since you have an upfront and personal view of the experiences of your employees, you can make noticeable improvements each time you have a little more space in the budget. That, in turn, will help you cultivate a sterling reputation as a great boss!
5. Open Door Style
Lastly, you can be a supportive leader by keeping an open door policy at all times. Your employees should never feel bad about coming to you with a complaint, especially if it relates to workplace harassment or fear.
By keeping an open door policy, your employees will feel free to come to you if they have concerns about payroll, other employees, customers, mental health, and many other topics. This is a good thing for you since it provides you with information you can use to make wise management decisions in the future. It’s also excellent for ensuring your employees trust you and your leadership style. The more your employees trust you, the less likely they’ll be to jump ship when the going gets tough or to badmouth you behind your back.
Which Supportive Leadership Style Should I Develop?
That’s up to you! Many executives choose a supportive leadership style based on their inherent personalities and preferences.
For example, do you have a lot of experience in the service industry, and now you are a manager or run a service business? You might benefit from a “one of the crew” leadership style since you’ll fall into the role naturally. But if you are college-educated and haven’t ever been a blue-collar worker, you might better fit with an open door policy or from a personable mentor style. In the latter role, you can use your extensive academic experience to:
- Train your employees and advanced skills
- Help your employees pursue college or secondary training and certificates
- Use your management or business experience to make wise leadership decisions when personnel conflicts arise
For the best results, consider your:
- Innate personality and traits
- Business needs
- Current employee count and roster
Once you know all this information, you can decide on the supportive leadership style you want to develop. Plus, remember that you can be a supportive leader in more ways than one! As you develop your leadership skills, you might manifest attributes or elements from each of the above styles depending on the situation.
Overall, a good supportive leadership style can massively improve workplace morale across the board. It shows your employees that you care about them and that you believe in their work. More importantly, supportive leadership styles prove to your employees that they aren’t alone, giving them the confidence they need to tackle any task. Yet even after you master your chosen supportive leadership style, there are other ways you can improve workplace culture and morale. Whether you want to improve minority confidence in your business or boost office culture, 1AND1 can help.