Do you ever ask yourself how your leadership style affects operations in your call center? In fact, you should.

Managing a call center is time intensive and little time is often left for self-reflection, but your leadership style really demands attention.

In fact, your management style affects the interaction between you, your manager and your team members.

In addition, your way of leading a call center affects your strategic goals and ultimately the customer experience.

Why is your leadership style important?

The key word here: awareness.

The first step to success in anything you do is knowing what the playing field looks like.

For contact center managers, that means:

  • Historical data
  • The expertise and skills of your team members
  • Industry Trends
  • The latest technology
  • Leadership Styles

According to experts, you are a more effective leader when you understand yourself well.

Why? Because you know your own strengths and weaknesses and recognize where you can improve the operation of your call center.

For example, suppose you are more of a hands-off manager, this can help you identify areas where you need to pay more attention. Such as training remote agents.

But suppose you are more the type of leader who puts employees first, you may start to critically analyze decisions that require more managerial input.

Once you know what your leadership style is you can better respond to the ups and downs of your call center.


managing a call center


Leading in a call center: 5 leadership styles

Now let’s take a closer look at five leadership styles for the call center.

Our advice? Don’t immediately get fixated on one leadership style. Even when you get close to one style, it’s good to weigh the pros and cons.

And above all, try to learn from the leadership styles that are (still) a bit foreign to you.

1. Hands-off

Call center agents frequently complain about micromanagement.

As a manager, when you analyze every second of your agents’ workday, it hinders productivity.

Did you know that micromanagement is bad for morale and is one of the biggest reasons for staff turnover in call centers?

If you are someone who prefers to be on top of his agents, it is time to teach yourself the hands-off leadership style.

A hands-off leader trusts his team members and lets them do their work without too much supervision.

Giving your agents more freedom is a great way to increase agent engagement, but it obviously doesn’t work well in every situation.

Because what do you do when you have a team of inexperienced, remote agents? You can’t expect new colleagues to live up to expectations while sitting at home without help.


  • Provides more engagement among your agents
  • Encourages innovation
  • Ensures satisfied agents


  • Problematic for teams with less experience
managing a call center

2. Transactional

A transactional leader responds to positive work with rewards and punishes negative performance with punishment.

Incentives are often used as motivators, but punishment often backfires and demotivates people.

Transactional leaders are results-driven and they see the relationship between an agent and their manager as a logical exchange.

  • Poor performance: negative reinforcement such as punishment or even dismissal.
  • Strong performance: rewards such as pay raises and roster time off.

The bottom line? If you want to reward people for good behavior, make sure you do it right.


  • Works well when rewards are meaningful (such as pay raises and promotions)


  • For in-kind rewards, this can be patronizing
  • Not linked to long-term performance
managing a call center

3. Influencing

This is the visionary leader with big plans for the contact center. After years of the same customer complaints and consistent operational inefficiencies, this manager is ready to change the status quo.

Influential or changing call center managers are enthusiastic, charismatic and extremely motivated. They rekindle the energy and passion in teams.

The negative side? With some call center managers, it’s mostly a lot of talking and getting little done.

Suppose you have a dream of addressing customer complaints about indifference from your agents.

You come up with a big plan to train your agents in empathy and want to measure progress by CSAT scores.


You keep pushing the training forward….

You don’t share progress with management….

Your grand plans have no substance.

So then you don’t get anywhere.


  • Builds trust with agents
  • Addresses systemic issues within the call center and initiates change


  • Can be counterproductive without sufficient planning and results

4. Unrelenting

Nobody likes a dictator, but there are times when you need authority in your call center.

Sometimes your agents don’t see your vision for meeting your quarterly goals and disappoint customers.

And sometimes managers just have to make decisions on their own.

This only works a small fraction of the time. Indeed, if you don’t trust your agents’ inputs on you create a toxic work environment.


  • Effective when you have to meet tight deadlines
  • Overcomes the inexperience of agents


  • Creates a toxic work environment
  • Leads to agent turnover

5. Employee-centric

Democratic, feedback-oriented, and participatory are all synonyms for the style where you put employees at the center.

You value the opinions, insights and feedback of your colleagues and also use it to make operational and strategic decisions.

Now that’s empowerment!

Your agents know that their input matters and you also notice that your customers are happier.

The only problem? Some decisions should be made by leaders and not staff. And that’s why you’re here!

Our advice? Always include feedback from your colleagues, but realize that you have the final say.


  • Agents feel valued
  • You get a fair culture


  • The need for input from executives may be overlooked
managing a call center

Leading a call center: 5 tips

Whatever your leadership style, the following tips will make leading a call center a little easier on you from now on:

  • Adapt yourself: There is no one leadership style that has it all. The best approach is to adapt yourself to each specific situation and then you may just find yourself switching from one style to another.
  • Be patient: You may not find your leadership twist right away. It’s fine to experiment with a few different styles and collect data through analytics or feedback from your employees. Also, especially try to brainstorm with other call center managers!
  • Show empathy: This applies to both your customers and your agents. You work in an industry with a huge staff turnover, and that means you’ll go far with a little compassion.
  • Admit it when you’re wrong: Sometimes you’re not right. Then just be honest and show your vulnerable side from time to time. You’ll see that your colleagues will start to respect you a lot better.
  • Leverage modern technology: Your competitors are investing in the best SaaS technology to meet the expectations of their customers and employees. Reduce your agents’ workload and make their lives a little more enjoyable by investing in software like Steam-connect. This is definitely going to increase your productivity too!