2 minutes

Oftentimes, a person’s personality and communication skills influence the way he or she handles other people. In the case of managers, we can sum up their managing or leadership ability according to their communication skills into two: The authoritative manager or the “tell” manager and the collaborative manager or the “sell” manager.

The “Tell” Manager
As the term itself suggest, the “tell” manager explains his plans and thoughts to the whole team. While this has advantages of achieving a short meeting without any arguments as well as providing a clear direction for everybody, this type of leadership can also mean inputs from a single person which can become a narrow perspective. This type of manager disregards the input of other members who may have more experiences and ideas to contribute.

A “tell” manager is accountable for everything and can be likened to a dictatorship style, at times. This can cause feelings of frustrations of his members. The authoritative manager imposes a clear reporting line which may not encourage discussion and anticipation of some risks or issues related to the project.

The “Sell” Manager
The collaborative type of manager sits in a meeting with his members and explores various options in delivering the project. Since members are encouraged to participate, it promotes cohesiveness in the team. As their experiences and ideas are collected, some risks and issues can be explored and anticipated so that they can be prevented.

Although the “sell” manager’s leadership style may sound motivating, there are also a few disadvantages to it. When team members are allowed to participate, it is sometimes difficult to reach a consensus. Furthermore, discussing about matters can be time consuming and may result to lack of clarity in their roles and responsibilities.

Each manager has his own style in handling his team. We may find these two types of leadership in virtual team working on projects. Communication is essential and team members as well as the project manager need to ensure that their messages are clearly understood by everyone who are working from remote locations. Project managers need to rethink if he has provided enough context and if his expectations for the outcome has been apparent to his members.

While the advantages of a “tell” manager can greatly help a group focus on one direction, it cannot be argued that project teams with members working in remote locations need to constantly communicate with each other for clarifications of tasks, roles, and responsibilities.

Communication is the lifeblood of any project which makes it become one of the critical success factors that every project manager must know and understand. While both authoritative and collaborative type of managers have their positive and negative effects, managers need to know how to provide clarity of goals and direction as well as ensure that team members can communicate with each other and can clarify on things that have given them difficulties. It is then necessary that project managers be approachable as well as accessible in times that their members need assistance.

If you are to manage a project, which type of manager would you want to become, a “tell” manager or a “sell” manager?