One of the biggest reasons that so many people are attracted to the franchise sector is the opportunity to be your own boss – to head up a business and make decisions pretty much as you see fit. The chance to be a leader after reporting to someone else is not only liberating, but invigorating.
Franchisees comprise a varied group of people. Some have been high-powered senior managers, leading a large team, while others might be not long out of university with only a little business experience. What’s great about franchising is that there’s always support and guidance from the franchisor, so no one need feel like they are embarking on this adventure totally alone.
One thing the franchisors have no influence over, apart from an assessment during the purchase process, is the franchisee’s leadership style and yes, there are many variations. Here are some of the most common… Can you recognise your style?
Participative / democratic
Identified under either moniker, these leaders like to consult their staff on issues, which makes employees feel valuable and part of the process. Ultimately, however, this boss will make the final decision. Those managed by a participative or democratic leader tend to exhibit high levels of engagement and motivation, due to their involvement, but it can make the decision process lengthier. Regardless, many deem this the most effective leadership style as employees are encouraged to participate.
As the name suggests, the autocratic leader acts predominantly alone. With total authority over their direct reports, they usually get their way and staff tend not to challenge any decisions. This style can be good for workers that favour instruction, as an autocratic leader tends to clearly convey their expectations. It is hugely frustrating for those that have ideas and suggestions which fall by the wayside. This approach assumes (rightly or wrongly) that the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the team and can thus come across as bullying and restrictive.
This boss assumes that the employer-employee relationship is merely a transaction of reward in exchange for labour and by that token, they operate under the expectation that their instructions will be adhered to (or followed). The advantage of this style is that everybody knows where they stand; it defines roles and responsibilities. Those that do as they are asked to will be rewarded. The disadvantage is that it can prevent any emotional bonds from forming, leaving workers detached and without job satisfaction.
Transformational / charismatic
These leaders are role models, people that the workforce and beyond look up to. They inspire and motivate their employees making it clear that everyone is valued. Transformational leaders have a desire to constantly change and innovate, which is a key attribute of a successful business. They favour regular communication to share the company’s vision, which ensures employees not only recognise goals, but are working towards them. Organisations with a transformational leader at the helm tend to succeed. Unsurprisingly, this is another of the more favourable leadership styles.
Those with a little too much charisma, on the other hand, may focus on themselves more than their staff. Such leaders can sometimes think themselves invincible, which may lead to their downfall.
We’ve all met them, that boss who is unbending and does everything precisely by the book. This is the bureaucrat. Typically relying on rules, they ensure that everyone without exception follows the same procedures. This can actually foster a fairer and more equal culture. However, it leaves little room for creativity, initiative and development, which means that companies headed up by bureaucratic bosses can become stagnant and get left behind.
This is the ‘hands-off’ approach to leadership, where employees are given the autonomy, freedom and trust to carry out their work, their way. The laissez-faire leader is naturally available for guidance and support but is generally happy to let the team get on with it. The downside to this approach is that it assumes each individual can manage their time well and that they possess personal motivation to meet deadlines. However, it can create a blameless culture in which employees have high levels of job satisfaction.
For those that like to work for a boss that leads by example, mucks in and really values their team, then the servant leader is your man or woman. This somewhat disparaging title describes someone that focuses on meeting the needs of their direct reports, taking great pains to develop a friendly, perhaps even familial and ethical environment. Such leaders elicit respect from their teams but can be considered lacking in fiercely competitive markets. Servant leaders may well be people who are ‘acting up’ or covering for someone else.
You may have been able to identify with one of the above, or perhaps parts of several styles. Maybe you are just embarking on your franchise adventure and you don’t yet know what your leadership style is. Ultimately, we all have different ways of doing things that suit our personality so go out there and lead! Who knows, you might become the next Richard Branson? Just try not to emulate David Brent.