Harvard Researchers Say There Are 2 Types of Managers (Which One Are You?)

Updated 02/15/18

"What type of boss do you want to be?" is a loaded question—communication style, personality type, and long-term vision for the business all shape the answer. But as Inc. reports, you may be able to boil it down to two main categories, both of which are required to run a successful business: management-focused bosses and leadership-focused bosses. "Businesses go through phases in their lives, just as people do," writes the publication. "Some days you need direction on where to go next, and some days you know where to go but just need somebody to crack the whip."

A successful manager will ideally wear their leadership hat when outlining a plan for the future, and their management hat when it comes time to lay down the ground rules and keep their team in order. With that said, "managing all the time (cracking the whip) is tedious and uninspiring," while "nonstop leadership (blue sky vision-setting) feels like a pep rally for a team that never practices and doesn't know the game."

This distinction is based on research from Harvard professor of business administration Raffaella Sadun, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, and MIT economist John Van Reenen. The three analyzed data from more than 12,000 companies to try and discern what makes some businesses succeed where others fail. They ultimately found just as much value in managing the day-to-day aspects of a business as they did in outlining a greater, long-term strategy.

"Managers should certainly dedicate their time to fundamental strategic choices, but they should not suppose that fostering strong managerial practices is below their pay grade," they write on Harvard Business Review. "Just as the ability to discern competitive shifts is important to firm performance, so too is the ability to make sure that operational effectiveness is truly part of the organization's DNA."

In other words, the key is to have the right person (management-focused or leadership-focused) calling the shots at the right time, or better yet, finding someone who can do both. "Having skills in both techniques makes you irreplaceable and helps you know when to move your team forward and when to take time to strategize and regroup," concludes Inc.

Managers, refresh your office for 2018 with the stylish picks below.

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