After writing Do You Want To Be a Leader?, I am coming back to the Leadership topic! I believe that only with a strong Leadership we can unlock [people] talent and creativity to develop the great solutions we need to face the challenges ahead. So, if Leadership is so important, why insisting in the same old and irrelevant question of What is your Leadership style? Instead one should try to find a good answer for, How do you lead your teams?, the real question that deals with behaviors and acts, rather than trying to find a box to put people in. Asking for a style is nothing more nor nothing less then asking for a label, reducing all the Leadership topic to boxes and labels. Like I have mentioned before, in The Bad Habit of Labeling Everything!, I do not like labels! Labels harm creativity, inhibit innovation, and reduces leadership to a style. Instead of labeling Leadership, I would rather learn more about the why a Leader behaves and acts the way she does. The difference between a good and a bad leader, it’s for me related to the way a Leader reads reality, learns about it, and acts accordingly to meet her goals, without defrauding her company’s vision. What kind of information does she take into account to act? How does she adapt? Does she faces the day-to-day situations, and the unusual situations same way? All these question are related to the decision-process, and their answers will all depend on the situation at-hand. Therefore, I believe that each situation needs a strong assessment before going on deciding how to handle it! Like in a chess game when the players read the chessboard before going on defining strategies and tactics, and never forgetting the end goal: reaching check mate. Likewise, a Leader should be able to read the situation at-hand in order to choose the best approach possible also without forgetting her ultimate goal.
So, what are the key variables to be assessed? I would like to propose 3 main group of variables: team’s maturity (degree of readiness, experience and knowledge), nature of the situation (form a day-to-day routine, to a brand new challenge), and timeline (from a short, to a long deadline)! By learning all this info about her team, a Leader is not only readier to face challenges, but also better able to design a career advancement strategy, and keep a higher level of motivation. The situation and timeline are aspects to be accessed in the moment, and can change in some way the team’s readiness, by leveraging or not on their knowledge and experience. Therefore, knowing one’s team is the halfway through to be a good Leader, the other part (no less important and crucial) is about having the ability of learning the situation and timeline correctly, design a plan, and be able to execute it – by acting and adapting! I would like to highlight the importance of knowing the team well when looking for those among the team who can, regarding experience and knowledge on that specific situation, help designing and executing the plan.
Regarding these aspects, and acting accordingly to the maturity of the team, the Leader’s behavior changes, and evolves*, so if the team’s maturity increases the leader’s behavior should evolve from a) Directing, Guiding; to b) Coaching, Explaining; to c) Supportive, Collaborating; to d) Delegating, Observing. The decision making process evolves also along the process, and from being the leader’s full responsibility in phase a, to being the team member’s full responsibility in phase d. Along this process, the leader encourages and empowers the team members to make decisions, more specifically by coaching in phase b and empowering in phase c.
As one can see it is important to know the team in order to decide which behavior or mix of behaviors to adopt, it is also important to say that there is no fixed style when leading and that will always depend upon team’s maturity, situation and time frame. However, it is important that each leader follows is own way! Leadership is all about people, knowing yourself first, your company and its goals second, and your people last, but never the least. In order to be a Leader and achieve your goals with a strong and motivated team, one needs to invest in guidance, have the best coaching and training programs available, know when to delegate and support, know their potential and limitations, but never forgetting your mission and goals.
Have your own vision regarding your team and talent management, a vision that enables you to achieve great things and do amazing stuff! Be a Leader! 😉
*Inspired by the “Situational Leadership Model” by Hersey, Blanchard, and Johnson – 1996.