Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and are more or less effective in particular situations. Some realize early on in their careers that having the same approach, whatever the circumstances, won’t always deliver the outcomes they desire. Others never quite get it and continue with their tried and tested approaches regardless of what’s going on around them. Whether you accept that Situational Leadership exists as a style in its own right or not, leaders have to recognize what’s happening in their businesses and their environments in order to make decisions and deployments that best meet the needs of their business.
Academics and authors can get caught up with labels when it comes to describing how leaders operate which can put people off, scare them even, from taking up positions where they think they’ll be seen as a leader. The reality is that most people have been in such positions in their working and home lives at some points in their lives and have valuable experiences to draw upon. Putting aside the labels and concentrating on what needs to be done seems far more straightforward.
What can be useful for existing and potential leaders to do is to consider their answers to a number of questions. There are no right or wrong answers to these but when looked at as a whole they start to describe our own style of leadership, something that is particular to us. It’s not a label or a theory, it’s how we come across as a leader or maybe how we would want to come across. What we do to make it real is down to each of us to work out for ourselves and to start putting into practice.
By answering the following seven questions we start to build a description of our own style of leadership:
- What do you do to explain to others what your business needs to achieve in order for it to be considered a success?
- Who do you turn to when things become difficult or uncomfortable and what do you talk to them about?
- How do you know that your business is on the right track to achieving what it wants to achieve?
- How do those working in your business (and think about suppliers and partners here) get to know about the direction of travel for the business – and how do they get involved in discussions around this?
- What do you do when you recognize that individuals and/or teams in your business have made an outstanding contribution or gone out of their way to make a difference?
- How do you know what your customers and potential customers think about you and what your business has to offer? When was the last time you spoke to them directly?
- When do you take time to reflect on what’s happening within your business and come up with solutions to make changes or fix problems?
Each of these questions is deliberately designed to make people think, to consider their impact, their role and what they do. They could be business owners or team leaders – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they take the time to answer the questions and consider what they come up with. It could be that they are perfectly happy with what they come up with. That’s absolutely fine, it’s their own style.
It may be that when they think about their answers a little they decide they want to make some changes, do some things differently. That’s fine too, they want to modify their style to become something that, in their opinion, is more effective and they are more comfortable with.
So, what’s your style of leadership?