The Puppeteer and the Sheepdog
There are all kinds of leadership styles. I strongly believe that we all must be ourselves in whatever we do. The last thing you want to do as an effective supervisor is to project yourself as a phony or a fake. Those you lead will see you as a fake and you will lose some credibility. I don’t want to oversimplify this but I like to use this analogy in discussing effective supervision. One is effective and one is not as effective.
The puppeteer pulls all the strings to control all the actions. Everything that needs to be done is tied to a string that the puppeteer pulls. If the puppeteer doesn’t pull the string it doesn’t get done.
The puppeteer micromanages and doesn’t allow for independence or creativity by the members of the work group. They must all react to the string pulling by the boss.
The sheepdog allows the flock to move in the general direction the sheepdog set for the flock. The sheepdog then patrols the perimeter of the flock to make sure the general direction is followed. As individual sheep drift away from the flock the sheepdog is there to guide them back and maintain the general direction toward their goal.
The sheepdog allows independent action by all members and then follows their progress and movement. As long as they move as a group and toward the goal the sheepdog stays back and observes. The sheepdog will allow the independent action of the group and of individuals within the group.
How do you want to lead your group, by pulling every string for every action of by informing the group of where and when to go and then patrol and observe to allow the group to move independently and to the goal you established.
This doesn’t mean that if you chose to lead like the sheepdog, on occasion, when the situation calls for it, you can revert to the puppeteer for a task or a situation. Flexibility and understanding your situation are important skills of a supervisor.