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Is Procedural Leadership An Effective Management Style?

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By Vicky Monroe

Business Basics

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There are so many leadership styles out there that affect a business in different ways. So, today let’s talk about procedural leadership and whether or not it’s hurting or helping your small business grow.

What is Procedural Leadership?

Procedural leadership is leading strictly by the book. Leaders who practice this leadership style want to do things the “right” way and tend to follow the steps to a tee. While these leaders are great at ensuring something gets done, they tend not to be great leaders for growing businesses because they are averse to business change.

These leaders like to oversee projects and tend to micromanage the tasks of others. These leaders mostly show up in middle management positions due to their rigid and somewhat inflexible nature.

Is It An Effective Management Style?

While there are cases where procedural leadership styles could be effective, if it involves micromanagement, it will end badly. When it comes down to it, procedural leadership is not a style conducive to creativity, nor does it typically create a positive working environment.

If you’re a surgeon about to perform brain surgery, then the autocratic style of procedural leadership could be effective. As the team leader doing an intricate and life-threatening procedure, it makes sense that you want to stay on top of everything and make sure it runs smoothly.

But if you’re a small business owner trying to grow, this leadership style is likely to bring your team down. Not only might it bring your team down, but because of the lack of autonomy, you risk losing good people.

In most cases, in a small business scenario, especially if you’re working in a creative field, you need to provide your employees with autonomy to do their best work.

When you hire someone, you should be hiring the person for expertise. If you’re using a procedural leadership style and ruling with an autocratic edge, that freedom to create and do will be taken away from that person.

Other Common Leadership Styles

If procedural leadership isn’t suitable for your business, here are some other management styles to explore.


On the other side of the coin, there’s laissez-faire management. True to its name, this type of leadership involves giving employees lots of leeway and autonomy. Instead of setting strict work hours and company policies, a laissez-faire leader trusts their workers to get the job done without much oversight.

While this management style may work for some employees, less independent workers may struggle due to a lack of guidance. Some people may also find this leadership style demotivating because there usually aren’t rewards for exceptional performance or clear consequences for mediocre work.

Being a micromanager can limit your company’s growth, but so can flipping to the other side of the spectrum. If you’re not viewed as your employees’ strong, effective, and involved leader, productivity may start to slip. This can hurt your company’s output and limit your ability to scale.

Transformational Leadership

An excellent alternative to laissez-faire management is transformational leadership. A transformational leader is growth-minded and is always looking to improve company processes. They set goals for the company and its employees but don’t micromanage.

Employees have the autonomy they need to complete tasks and meet deadlines in ways that work for them. This can improve output and productivity. Transformational leaders are also open to feedback and take everyone’s ideas on board — bringing new perspectives into the company that can help increase innovation.

Overall, this leadership style usually creates a happy, productive workforce. It also helps companies expand through its emphasis on growth and improvement. However, because transformational leaders are often big picture thinkers, they may neglect the business’s day-to-day operations.

They may also push employees too hard at times in their pursuit of growth. If you adopt this leadership style, it’s essential to set goals that challenge your employees but don’t stretch them too far. Creating objectives that seem impossible to achieve can backfire. Unrealistic goals will usually demotivate your employees instead of inspiring them to work harder.

Transactional Leadership

Like procedural leaders, transactional leaders are usually good at getting their teams to accomplish short-term tasks. They use a transparent system of incentives and punishments to motivate their team. If employees achieve the goals set out for them, they’ll get a monetary reward. If they don’t perform, they may be penalized.

This system is easy for employees to understand, which is a plus. It also creates a sense of fairness because the same standards judge everyone. However, its rigidness may limit growth and creativity. Employees are tasked with accomplishing a narrow set of goals and tasks, and if they don’t, they may be punished. This leaves little time for innovation and pursuing new ideas, which might hamstring your company’s growth in the long run.

Although incentives are part of any good leadership strategy, you shouldn’t rely on them as your sole means of motivating your team. Building relationships with your employees, coaching them, and investing in their professional growth are equally important. You should also ensure that your goals and objectives aren’t so prescriptive and rigid that they limit creativity.

What Kind of Leader Should You Be?

Leadership styles are personal. While we all tend to fit into one box more than another, chances are we have a hint of two or three that’s part of our true style. When it comes to being a good leader, we need to evaluate what’s best for our team and company as a whole.

New business owners tend to take a more hands-on approach because they’re passionate about their projects. But I’ve seen procedural leadership in action, and I can tell you from my experience that it doesn’t end well.

To use the age-old analogy, if you have too many cooks in the kitchen, it’s going to get tight. You’ll probably end up with food on the floor. While you need to work with a leadership style that you’re comfortable with, you also need to make sure that it is what’s best for you, your employees, and your company.

The key is to remain open to feedback and be responsive to the needs of your employees. Every leadership style has benefits and drawbacks, including procedural leadership.

But over time, you’ll find the right blend of strategies to motivate your employees to get the job done, which will help you lead your company to success.

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