What Style Of Leadership Do You Provide?

Lighthouse B&WLeaders 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:

  1. What do you do to explain to others what your business needs to achieve in order for it to be considered a success?
  2. Who do you turn to when things become difficult or uncomfortable and what do you talk to them about?
  3. How do you know that your business is on the right track to achieving what it wants to achieve?
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. 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?



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How Do You Know How Others Perceive You?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerception is a strange thing. Whatever we see in front of us we automatically take to be the truth. Of course, it’s the truth according to our own model of the world around us and is heavily influenced by our own experiences. It’s how we perceive those around us as well as the situations we find ourselves in. So it stands to reason that people around us have the same limitations in what they see, they can’t perceive things in the same way we do.

If different people can have different, but similar, perceptions on the same situation difficulties can arise on ‘what needs to be done’ or ‘whether that situation is something to worry about or not’. Have ever been in a situation where you thought that something needed to be done but someone else argued against it because it wasn’t necessary? “It’ll be alright on the night” springs to mind. What is happening here is a conflict of perceptions. What you see as something that needs to be attended to according to your experiences is something that is of little or no consequence based on that other person’s experiences.

Open and honest dialogue between the two of you ought to be able to overcome this and a common understanding of what you are both viewing is the obvious way forward. But this doesn’t always happen because those life experiences that influence us can be extremely powerful and it takes quite some argument for us to go against what we perceive to be the truth.

In workplace situations this can exhibit itself when senior managers and leaders make decisions that they believe to be true in the face of what appears to be considerable differences of opinion. That leader or senior manager may well have more appropriate life experiences that enable them to make the right call but this can never be assumed. A leader who assumes they can always make the right call just because they are at the ‘top-of-the-shop’ is one who has become blinded by the power of the position they hold.

So what should leaders and managers do if they start to consider that their perceptions may be getting in the way of or hindering performance? Recognizing this is a step in the right direction to becoming a more self-aware leader and this in itself is a step not everyone makes. A leader who acknowledges that different perceptions are at play and wants to do something about it needs to pay particular attention to three activities:

Observation

In any interactions with others or when observing situations from afar you need to see how people react to you and to others around them. Immediate reactions in terms of facial expressions, answers to questions, body language will all tell you something. Reactions coming later such as e-mails, phone calls, other meetings all tell you something about the impact you had.

Communication

As well as observing the impact you are having on those around you why not simply ask people? This is the principle of 360° feedback but you need a more fluid response and not something that happens only occasionally and has a built in formality to it that often puts people off.

It is possible to ask outright and this certainly works with those who know you well. For others asking questions such as “How did you see that situation?” or “With your experience, what would you suggest?” allow you to uncover the different perceptions at play in your business or team.

Remember that if you are in a position of authority people who work for you may feel uneasy (to start with at least) saying exactly what they think and may tell you what they think you want to hear.

Reflection

Your own self-awareness will only develop if you take time to reflect on what you are observing and what people are telling you. Are the reactions to what you do and what you say what you expect? Is what you are seeing when watching others respond to things you have said or done in line with your expectations? When you are talking with people and uncovering their perceptions on shared situations or incidents is there that much of a difference or are there very different views. It’s not possible to treat each of the situations you’ve experienced one at a time. You need to consider them as a whole – what is a week’s worth or a month’s worth of interactions telling you?

Over time you will build an ever-improving picture of how others perceive you and in doing so you will be better placed to appreciate how others will respond to you. This may not change the decisions you ultimately make but your confidence in having made the best decision will increase. And if there are difficulties arising you will be better placed to recognize them.