Proactive Management vs. Passive Authoritative Management

As the “baby boomer” generation move towards retirement, it leaves more and more leadership positions to be filled by the next generational demographic.  It also means the time has never been better to examine pertinent issues surrounding leadership styles.  We are now presented with an opportunity to reevaluate what good leadership looks like.  This includes a healthy exploration of proactive vs passive authoritative management.  Let’s start by briefly describing each leadership style.

Proactive managers are those who don’t wait for success to come to them, but rather they deal with expected difficulties in advance.  They devise smart business strategies while also taking precautions to mitigate risks.  A proactive manager sets goals and then mentors their staff to help them achieve those goals.  Instead of watching from the sidelines, they play an active role in tackling issues and solving challenges.  They work collaboratively with their team to manage and minimize any known risks and they are often prepared for challenges rather than blindsided by them.  Unlike some managers who wait for a problem to occur and then search for a way to solve it, proactive managers utilize careful planning to identify and assess all potential risks and develop a plan to prevent or manage them.


Authoritative managers rarely involve the help of others.  Instead, they monopolize the decision-making authority and simply relay any important information to their staff.  They usually see themselves as the most knowledgeable and the most qualified and don’t trust their subordinates to make decisions on their own.  In addition, these passive authoritative leaders spend much of their time looking for flaws in their workers and focus on ordering them around.  If a problem arises, they spring to action looking to place the blame on someone else.  They don’t make it a priority to work alongside their employees as a mentor.  Instead, they stand at a distance and tell their workers what to do.  If someone makes a mistake, they are quick to reprimand them for poor performance.


It is pretty clear that proactive managers have a higher likelihood of success.  For one, they aren’t afraid to admit that challenges will come their way and they spend time preparing for them so that when issues arise, they have a plan in place.  Likewise, they work with their staff as opposed to barking orders at them.  They value teamwork and make their employees feel respected by giving them the freedom to complete tasks on their own.  Conversely, passive authoritative managers make it appear as though they are “active” by micromanaging their staff, but in reality, the leadership that occurs after the fire is put out is passive.  Employees are reprimanded, but what are these leaders doing to help them succeed and to avoid these problems in the future?  The best leaders are the ones who know how to take charge without taking over.  They have a willingness to work alongside their staff in order to transform them into a stronger team.   They know what risks are out there and they spend time formulating a plan to mitigate them.  In time, it is the proactive leader who will turn the business into a success.