“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Kenneth Blanchard
One leadership style doesn’t fit all.
Empower people by giving them support or direction based on what they need.
This means staying flexible in your leadership approach and determining whether an individual needs more direction or support and responding accordingly.
That’s how a great leader empowers individuals and helps bring out their best.
According to the Situational Leadership II model, the leadership style depends on the development levels within the team.
Here are my key takeaways:
- Balance Direction and Support: Some individuals need more direction. Some just need more support. If you provide too much direction or micro-manage somebody that doesn’t need it, you’re hurting more than helping. If you’re providing somebody a lot of support when what they are looking for is more direction, again, you are hurting more than helping. This is really about matching your leadership style to the needs of the individual and the needs of the ask.
- Stay flexible in your approach. While this might sound obvious, I think the important point is to be flexible in your style. Be able to vary your leadership style by situation (the context) and tailor it to the individual development levels within the team.
- Consider whether to change yourself or find a better fit. Another consideration is whether it’s more effective to change your approach or change the situation to suit you (set yourself up for success.)
Capability and Motivation Determine the Right Leadership Style
Some people might need more motivation while others need more capability.
A quick cutting question to ask is, “do this person want to do it?”
Another question to ask is, “do this person know how to do it?”
These two questions can very quickly help you figure out the right approach.
I’m a fan of changing my approach based on what individuals on the team need. I find this dramatically helps me improve effectiveness given the variety of personalities, skill levels and context I face from project to project.
How To Adapt Your Leadership Style
Here’s a summary of the key scenarios and solutions based on the Situational Leadership II model:
- If there’s high competence and high commitment, use a “Delegating” style which is low support and low directive.
- If there’s high competence, but less commitment, then use a “Supporting” style, which means provide more support and encouragement.
- If there’s low competence and low commitment, then use a “Coaching” style, which provide more direction and support
- If there’s low competence but high commitment, use a “Directing” style, which provides more direction, but less support.
Competence is knowledge and skill for the task.
Confidence is motivation and self-confidence.
I believe competence breeds confidence which can help breed and sustain motivation.
Effective Leaders Support People and Get Out of Their Way
The main point is that if somebody has a bunch of competence, get out of their way.
If somebody needs more encouragement, support them.
Ideally, you help somebody get to a high competence, high commitment development level.