Which leadership or management style should you use?
Authoritative? I’m going to tell you what to do because I know best and I don’t really need your input.
Coaching? Do what I say and I’ll help you by showing you how and developing you to achieve your potential.
Consultative? I want to know what you think, I value your ideas and input, though I have the responsibility for the final decisions.
Delegative? I’m confident you know what you’re doing, you have the skills and knowledge you need, so I’m letting you get on with it.
And the answer to the question is…it all depends! We should adapt the style we use to lead and manage people according to the people themselves and the situation they’re in.
I like Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership model, which bases the leader’s style on the ability and willingness of the ‘follower’.
So if someone is new to the job you need to ‘tell’ them everything because they don’t know what they’re doing and they will feel insecure if you leave them alone to sink or swim.
As they become more competent you show them what to do and encourage them to feed back their ideas.
Once they are established you consult with them and want them to share their perspective on work practices and proposed changes because you understand that they have invaluable knowledge about their job.
After a while they become experts, so you might consider delegating tasks to them and leaving them to it, though always being there to support and resource.
Situational leadership explains why it’s not a good idea to ‘micro manage’ people who know what they’re doing – it will cause frustration and demotivation – but why it is a good idea to keep a close eye on people who are still unsure of their role.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.