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(c) McDonalds Austria

Most of these “Leadership Proverbs” I’ve just picked up, absorbed and imbibed by some process of osmosis along the way and don’t know exactly whom they originated from. But when I know I’ll make reference, and when I don’t it’s not that I’m ungrateful or that I want to appear like a genius. It’s genuinely that I can’t remember. So if I’ve flogged something from you let me know and I’ll happily acknowledge it.This post continues the thoughts from last week, and is based on insights from Ken Blanchard.

Change your leadership style

There are numerous leadership styles: delegating, visionary, directional, authoritarian, strategic, managing, motivational, coaching, cheerleading, entrepreneurial, reengineering, and more. Many of these styles overlap and some people possess one style and some possess multiple. Everyone has a natural or default leadership style, a style that is most organic and feels most comfortable, a groove they will slot into most easily and unconsciously when they’re not concentrating but just “leading from the hip”. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is just running with their default style and not modifying their leadership style to suit the particular situation or person at hand. The more flexible you can be the more effective and helpful to your team you will be. The more you tailor your leadership style to the situation you find yourself in the better leader you will be.

Individuals go through a similar life-cycle in the roles they take on to the life-cycle of a team that we saw ast time. Briefly here are the individual development stages, then we’ll talk about the appropriate leadership styles for each situation. Each stage is a combination of high and low competence and high and low enthusiasm.

Stage 1: Enthusiastic beginner. These people are pumped up and excited, but they don’t really know what they’re supposed to do or how to do it. But they’re keen. Low competence, high enthusiasm.

Stage 2: Disillusioned learner. These people are still learning how to do stuff, and the task is harder than they thought and the learning curve is getting steep and hard to navigate. They know enough to know they aren’t doing very well and they have a fair way to go and they’re a bit over the whole thing. Low competence, low enthusiasm.

Stage 3: Capable but cautious. These people have the basic skills and know-how to get the job done, but have to be very conscious of each step they take. They are competent but aren’t sure if they are competent enough to handle the task on their own. High competence, low enthusiasm.

Stage 4: Self-starting flourisher. These people can perform the task from start to finish. A lot of the skill-set is second-nature. They can be told the task and the due date and can then be left to achieve it and trouble-shoot throughout autonomously. High competence, high enthusiasm.

You can see how this cycle corresponds to the team life-cycle. And each stage, both with individuals and with teams, requires a certain leadership style that fits best.

Stage 1 Leadership: Directing. At this stage of development you need to provide clear instructions on exactly what is expected, exactly what you want done, specific instruction on how to do it and when to do it by.

Stage 2 Leadership: Coaching. At this stage you need to provide a fair amount of direction on what needs to be accomplished plus a lot of encouragement and positive feedback to keep motivation high. Keep looking for small wins or where they get it basically right and tell them what it was and that they did it well.

Stage 3 Leadership: Supporting. At this stage people don’t need much instruction or direction, but they need a lot of time to talk and be listened to and encouraged.

Stage 4 Leadership: Delegating. At this stage you just need to give them the task and when it’s due. And although their motivation is already high and they will probably continue to feel good about themselves because they’re doing a good job you still need to be their cheerleader and encourager.