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Sunday, January 27, 2008

leadership style in Afghanistan

A reader writes:

I have been working with First Micro Finance Bank of Afghanistan for the last 8 months and I am leaving this organization because of personal problems. The leadership style in Afghanistan is very authoritative and I have brought a new sort of leadership style in this company where everyone is open and free to speak up. I think I have spoiled my employees a little. Now that I am leaving, they are hiring another Training Manager for my department. How do I talk to the new manager and what should I tell him/her how to handle the training department’s employees?

What an interesting dilemma. You probably can't change the new manager's management style, since you'll presumably only have a limited period of overlap with him or her. But you likely have the most chance of having an impact if you talk to him or her about how a more open style has benefited the company. Are there bottom line results you can point to, as support for a less authoritative leadership style?

Of course, many incoming managers may have their own plans and reject this advice, particularly if the advice is contrary to the dominant culture you're operating in. So to get the best results, frame it as much as possible as being the approach that got you the best results, rather than a personal preference that you're pushing on the new person.

You might also talk to the department employees and prepare them for the fact that the new person is likely to bring his or her own style to the job.

Beyond that, I'm not sure how much of this is in your hands. Any ideas from anyone else?


Productivity Guy said...

Wow, definitely a unique situation, at least given that it's in Afghanistan. I think you are pretty exact in your advice - frame it as a personal preference, try to show how it has benefited, but ultimately just prepare the team for a change in style.

Another suggestion may be to inform your superior that the employees have gotten used to a certain style, and that he or she should watch out for discontent after the new manager comes in. This isn't meant to undercut the new manager, but if you're superior is 1) happy with the changes you made and 2) at least aware that there might be conflicts given a return to a more authoritative style, then at least he or she will be able to be proactive about any situations that should arise.