Do You Use a Sledgehammer or a Velvet Hammer?

Linda LaitalaBusiness, Employees, Leadership, ManagementLeave a Comment

When it comes to leadership and management styles, most people fall into two categories: sledgehammer or velvet hammer leaders.

Corporate American often nurtures the sledgehammer leader. This person tells it how it is, regardless of their audience. They have no filter, and they take pride in being what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of people. The sledgehammer doesn’t consider what people might be thinking or feeling, nor do they care to hear another perspective. I had a sledgehammer boss; his name was Bob. He was brilliant, egotistical, and routinely worked 60-hour weeks. He also had a bottle of Maalox sitting beside his computer that he chugged down when deadlines were tight.

The velvet hammer is everything Bob was not. They actively listen and think about how people will perceive a message. They ask themselves questions like:

  • How would this person feel if I said that?
  • What’s the best way to approach this audience?
  • The velvet hammer leader puts themselves into the mindset of their audience.

They have a high level of self-awareness. They want their team to understand where they’re coming from and how to work together. They are open to alternative possibilities, encouraging people to share input and work together.

Most are terrific communicators who take into consideration how a message will be perceived. In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown writes, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”  When you’re not clear about your expectations or requirements, you won’t get the results you desire. Being clear doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk.

A team takes its cues from its leader. If you lead with a sledgehammer, over time, so will your team. You create an atmosphere of fear and stifle creativity.

By winning people over, a velvet hammer builds community and retains excellent staff and clients.

It takes more effort to be a velvet hammer, to build a team that thrives on the give and takes of constructive criticism. But in the long run, the benefits will more than pay for the necessary time and effort.

The road is easier together,

Time is precious. We are grateful you’ve chosen to spend some with us today.

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