Leadership style and preferences can vary greatly from one person to the next, even within a single business. But there are a few key differences between those with a traditional leadership approach and those with a more modern leadership approach.
Scott Berman, president of Florida Window and Door, joined the 2022 Growth Mastery Summit, hosted earlier this year by Dave Yoho Associates, to share what he finds to be eight key differences between modern and traditional leaders and how each can impact business outcomes and success.
1. Where does the power lie?
Traditional leaders believe power comes from their position of authority, according to Berman, whereas modern leaders believe power is greatest in a collective team.
"Your skillset as a leader requires that you change to reflect your team and grow your company," said Berman. Part of that growth includes bringing your team into the process and giving them the power to help build a successful business.
2. Who owns the information?
Traditional leaders seek to maintain ownership of information, while modern leaders seek to openly share information and knowledge—a great example of the above the modern leader’s belief that power and success are at their best in a collective team.
Berman added, “The more information you share, the more collaborative your team, the more modern your leadership gets.”
3. Who generates ideas and changes?
Under traditional leadership, suggestions from the team are occasionally implemented, with the ultimate power still lying with those at the top of the leadership hierarchy.
In modern leadership, according to Berman, suggestions and ideas are highly encouraged from all members of the team and are examined and discussed by the collective rather than solely team leadership.
4. How are solutions reached?
Traditional leaders deliver an approved solution to the team when it is ready to be implemented and has been fully fleshed out. Modern leaders work to facilitate brainstorming with the team, further cementing the importance of collaboration to their leadership style.
5. How are time and resources allocated?
In a business with traditional leadership, Berman said, time and resources are allocated to tasks or challenges only when proven necessary. In businesses practicing modern leadership, team members are enabled to do their best work through the allocation of time and resources right away, when it becomes clear that not doing so could be a detriment to morale and overall company success.
6. Are roles and responsibilities rigid or flexible?
Under traditional leaders, employees normally must adhere to specific roles and responsibilities within their job descriptions. Under modern leaders, roles and responsibilities have more room to evolve and fluctuate to support the business and the employees within it.
7. How are challenges approached and handled?
Often in traditional leadership structures, said Berman, team members must fight fires and focus on symptoms as they surface. In modern leadership, time is taken to attempt to uncover the root causes of issues.
“If you don’t face a problem right away or collectively, the problem doesn’t go away,” said Berman. “You need to seek how to resolve the issue, and then prevent it from happening again, as soon as possible.”
For example, let’s say you work for a company that has run into supply chain issues on a handful of recent jobsites. Rather than treat these as isolated incidents and solve them one by one as time allows, companies with modern leadership will solve the issue immediately before stopping to look at the bigger picture and ask, “What caused these problems on these multiple projects, and how can we solve that root cause to avoid the same issues on future jobs?”
8. How and when is feedback provided?
Under traditional leaders, annual staff performance reviews are conducted per company policy, with few opportunities built in elsewhere for feedback. Under modern leaders, immediate and ongoing feedback is encouraged as well as personalized coaching—tactics Berman said can help avoid a lot of turnover.
Additionally, when giving feedback, modern leaders make use of their emotional intelligence, or EQ.
"Everyone talks about IQ, but the fact is that EQ is more important,” said Berman. “It teaches you one basic principle: you don't respond right away, and you think before you respond. Using EQ gives you that time to slow down and think, and it lets the other person know that you take the conversation and relationship seriously.”
Kaitlin Schuler is editor of Roofing and Exteriors and has nearly a decade of experience as an editor and journalist. Prior to joining Informa, Schuler served as special projects editor for Professional Remodeler magazine and, previously, editor for the American Nuclear Society. She earned a master's in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and a bachelor's in English from the University of Michigan. She now resides in southwest Michigan with her fiancé and 12-year-old cat.