Every executive, at some point in their career, has deliberated over the type of leader they should be. Is it better to be a 'nice' leader so that my staff will like -- and then hopefully trust -- me? Or, would a 'tough' leader result in more respect and hard work from employees?
Despite the recent popularity of companies' wellness and culture movements, many of the most visible leaders in our society would fall under the 'tough' category, furthering the stereotype of the tireless, perfectionist visionary.
However, leadership shouldn't only be grouped under headings like 'nice' or 'tough.' One executive, Dan Roberts, CEO & co-founder of Scout Alarm, captured my attention recently with a different leader category: The relaxed leader.
Roberts believes a 'relaxed leader' that communicates expectations clearly is what results in the most productive and happy employees long-term. He explained to me five reasons why that's the case.
1. Relaxed leadership helps breed confidence and trust in others.
At Scout Alarm, new team members are expected to be self-starters capable of wearing multiple hats with minimal oversight.
"Although I consider myself a relaxed leader, this does not mean I don't care about the outcome -- it's about trusting that, given autonomy, others can achieve the outcome without being micromanaged," stated Roberts.
With this model, its true effectiveness falls squarely on the team member's power and ability to make their own destinies -- to be self-starters who can take the reins and showcase their talents, thus "simultaneously building confidence and trust on both sides," explained Roberts.
Oftentimes, executives try to have their hand in everything but in a smaller company like Scout, Roberts stressed the importance of releasing control, hiring people you can trust, and giving them space to do what they do best.
2. A relaxed work environment promotes collaboration.
Let's face it -- if a company's leader is relaxed and positive, that will trickle down into the overall work environment and help employees feel safe and encouraged to get to know their coworkers.
When coworkers get to know each other on a more personal level, they often feel more comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. This is key for collaboration, as it helps to foster a more productive work environment.
"Collaboration -- when coupled with effective communication between team members -- can also often help projects proceed more smoothly as compared to a more siloed approach," added Roberts.
3. Relaxed leadership promotes creativity.
Another important attribute spurred by a relaxed leader? Creativity. "When employees feel like their work environment encourages them to speak up, they'll feel more comfortable sharing their creative ideas -- and fresh perspectives are always vital for being productive," explained Roberts.
In a relaxed and respected work environment, team members are more willing to both openly defend and challenge ideas without recourse, which can result in unique concepts that can differentiate the company from the competition.
4. Relaxed leaders build trust through transparency.
Part of being a relaxed leader is knowing that everything shouldn't fall on one person's shoulders. This goes hand-in-hand with the importance of being transparent with your employees, as it brings about a more trusted relationship between leadership and staff.
Roberts stressed that "sharing important information and involving personnel in the decision-making process will make them feel more invested in the company and secure in their role."
Leaders who communicate the state of their company with more transparency will earn the team's trust, which will then lead to a more successful business.