Situational Leadership

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1 Situational Leadership The relationship, which exists between a manager and team member, may be seen as a two way contract. If it is to work successfully for both parties then a dialogue must exist. Without dialogue the working out of this contract becomes based on guesswork and assumption. The Situational Leadership model expresses this contract as a number of management styles, provided as a response to different levels of commitment and confidence of the team member in relation to a particular task. There are three key components: 1. Diagnosing the development level of an individual or a team. 2. Adapting your personal leadership style to meet the needs of the team. 3. Reaching the agreement with the individual or team to agree the style needed. Diagnosing the development level of an individual or team Situational leadership recognises that people can, and want to, develop and that the leader has a key role in developing people. To help people develop it requires the leader to understand where that person is right now - their development level. Diagnosis Development level is task or goal specific and is a combination of:- Knowledge Competence Commitment Skills (transferable) Motivation Confidence

2 Four development levels The development level of the individual or team can be diagnosed by analysing the his/her, or the team's, level of competence and commitment. Diagnosis is task or goal specific, for example, a person may very competent and committed in the technical parts of their job but might lack skills in a new task such as budgeting. There are four development levels (D1 - D4). competence and commitment: Each is a combination of D1 D2 D3 D4 Low competence High commitment Some competence Low commitment Increasing competence Variable commitment High competence High commitment Enthusiastic beginner Disillusioned learner Capable but cautious Self reliant achiever Adapting your personal leadership style to meet the needs of the team The leaders role is to build both competence and commitment. Building competence develops knowledge and skills and requires the leader to give direction. Building commitment develops motivation and confidence and requires the leader to give support. As a leader this requires you to demonstrate flexibility. On any given goal or task, for one individual, you may need to give a variety of both support and direction.

3 Four leadership styles Style (1) Directing The leader provides specific instructions and closely supervises task accomplishment. The leader takes decisions. Style (2) Coaching The leader continues to direct and closely supervise task accomplishment. He/she also takes and explains decisions, asks for suggestions and supports progress. Style (3) Supporting The leader facilitates and supports efforts towards task accomplishments. Responsibility for decision-making is shared. Style (4) Delegating Leader hands over responsibility for decision making and problem solving and provides minimal support as required. What do we mean by direction and support? Providing direction In providing direction the leader tells the person what to do and when and how to do it. He/she clarifies the roles of the leader and the team member/s and closely supervises performance. Directive leadership is more push than pull. It includes: Training and instructing - ensuring people know how to do a specific task. Organising - setting goals and objectives, planning and providing resources. Structuring - establishing priorities and setting timelines. Supervising - observing and reviewing and progress and giving feedback.

4 Providing support In providing support the leader encourages the person to become more selfreliant by listening and encouraging. Supportive leadership is more pull than push. It includes: Asking questions - to involve the person in decision making and problem solving. Explaining - why a certain course of action has been taken Listening - to people's ideas and problems. Encouraging - encouraging, re-assuring and giving feedback. The four styles of leadership may be seen as a product of combining these two behaviours, 'direction' and 'support'. The vertical axis may be seen as management support, whilst the horizontal axis can be seen as directive behaviour on behalf of the manager, high to begin with but diminishing as development increases. High Supporting Coaching Support Delegating Directing Low Low Direction High The ideal manager is one who can modify his or her behaviour across the four principal leadership styles to fit the job-related development of his or her staff member. However, we all have a preferred style of managing and may find it difficult to behave in a role which is alien to our own values, beliefs and

5 attitudes. If a style is used inappropriately it can lead to frustration for the person on the receiving end. A directing style used at the wrong time can feel like 'dictatorship', a coaching style used at the wrong time can feel like 'backseat driving', supporting can feel like 'suffocation' and delegating can feel like 'abdication'. Flexibility between the styles is important, but knowing which style is right on which occasion is just as vital. Leadership is something you do with people not to people. Diagnosing the right style for the right situation is not easy but, if your diagnosis of competence or commitment is wrong you risk providing the wrong leadership style and creating frustration and disharmony. Experience plays a great part but all too often a single 'comfortable' style is used to address all situations or, if flexibility is practised, then the choice of response is made by guesswork. A useful guide to the right style is to ask 'which of the following outcomes is appropriate at this point in time?' "I DECIDE" use Directing Style "WE TALK - I DECIDE" use Coaching Style "WE TALK - WE DECIDE" use Supporting Style "YOU DECIDE - I ENDORSE" use Delegating Style Ultimately, the right style is determined by the needs of the person being managed - their level of confidence and commitment to the task in-hand. This is where dialogue is so necessary. If the Leadership Styles concept can be used as a language for both parties in the 'contract' to discuss and agree on an appropriate style then the contract can be made to work more effectively and to the greater satisfaction of both parties. The experience of teaching my daughter to drive, recently provided a clear example of the four stages of Situational Leadership and the use of dialogue in moving me as 'manager' along the curve. Directing Stage Sitting in a stationary car, I described how the car worked - the purpose of the clutch and how to engage and disengage when changing gear. At the end of this session Gemma had an intellectual appreciation of

6 what we were about to do, but no amount of talking would have turned her into a competent driver. She had to try it for herself. Coaching Stage This is the 'white knuckle' stage! At this stage it will always be 'quicker to do it myself' - and not just quicker, I would actually do a much better job if I did it myself - but I must resist. Gemma must learn by doing it on her own. I am there, hand hovering next to the hand brake, but she is driving. Before we set out on this stage, Gemma's confidence had been very high, 'this looks straight forward - I think I'm going to get the hang of this quickly' - tremendous enthusiasm. By the end of this stage, however, her confidence has collapsed as she comes face to face with the reality of the task. In the directing stage she had 'high confidence' and 'low ability' - I needed to respond with 'high direction' and 'moderate support'. During the coaching stage I needed to respond with continued 'high direction' but also now with 'high support' to meet her dwindling self confidence. Supporting Stage As Gemma became more and more used to the task of driving her ability increased in leaps and bounds. I become confident in her ability but she did not share this confidence. At this stage she had moderately high ability but variable self confidence. I needed to respond with continued 'high support' but to ease off on 'directive behaviour'. I was told this in no uncertain terms when approaching a difficult junction I said "you can go after the red car". Gemma's response was, "don't tell me when to go, I'll make my own assessment and just ask you to confirm the decision". I was being moved firmly from the Coaching box into Supporting (We Talk - We Decide)! Delegating Stage Finally we arrived at the time of the test - empowerment! Gemma now had both ability and self confidence, but this was no time for 'abdication', there still have to be controls. After all, I am still ultimately responsible for her. "Call us when you get there", "Be back by 10pm", were indications of the low level 'direction' and 'support' being applied. One month later, Gemma needed to do some motorway driving and came to me asking if I would sit with her on her first journey, since she had not driven on anything other than dual carriageway until this point in time. I was being asked to travel down the Situational Leadership curve, out of 'delegating' and back into 'supporting' - a style appropriate to the new 'task' being undertaken.

7 Organisational Influence Managers are influenced in the way in which they behave as leaders not only by the maturity of their subordinates and the job situation, but also by the constraints imposed upon them by, and the very nature of the organisation - its dominant culture and climate. In an organisation in which top management is very concerned with short-term results, managers are pressured to behave in a task-orientated, controlling and directing style - they either perform or are fired. In the short term they may achieve better results, but continuous application of this behaviour may result in worker alienation, leading to absenteeism, high labour turnover, deteriorating employee relations, strikes, etc. In an organisation characterised by participation and democratic forms of management, continuous high controlling and directing leadership behaviour is again likely to be counter productive. The culture of the organisation limits the range of management styles available to the manager. If the culture of the organisation demands continuous leadership behaviour which is counter to the manager's own preferred style, there is little person-environment fit, and stress may well be caused. Linking Team Development with Situational Leadership The focus during this section has been more on the behaviour of the team leader than on the team itself. It is now time to link the two subjects of team development and leadership using the four stages of team development and Blanchard's model of Situational Leadership. * EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADERS ADJUST THEIR STYLE TO PROVIDE WHAT THE GROUP CAN'T PROVIDE FOR ITSELF * In Stage One, the Orientation Stage, group members bring enthusiasm and commitment to meetings, but little knowledge, so they need direction. In Stage Two, the Dissatisfaction Stage, group members are not high on either competence or commitment. They are struggling with the task as well as how

8 to work together so they need both direction and support (coaching). In Stage Three, the Resolution Stage, group members have the skills to perform well but still need to build their confidence or morale so they need support and encouragement (supporting). And finally, when a group reaches Stage Four, the Production Stage, they have high skills and morale so the leader can stand aside or join in and let them work with minimal interference (delegating). High Supporting Coaching Support Delegating Directing Low Low Direction High Stage 4 Stage 3 Stage 2 Stage 1 Do Groups Regress? Once groups are in the Production Stage, do they ever regress? The simple answer is 'yes'. When groups gain, lose or change members, when the task changes or if a major event occurs which disrupts group functioning, the group will move back to Stage 3 and even into Stage 2. When it happens the leader needs to adjust his or her style accordingly. When dealing with a high-performing team, which involves delegating, the leader cannot go from Delegating (Style 4), back to Directing (Style 1). That would be the ultimate derailment. Instead the manager must back track to Supporting (Style 3) and try to find out what's going wrong. Having done this he will be able to determine whether it is necessary to move back to Coaching (Style 2) and either redirect or reprimand to get the group back to proper functioning.

9 It is important, however, to keep on the 'railroad tracks' and to move back one leadership style at a time until you can get the group to deal with the problem. Be careful not to get derailed by jumping the track and skipping a style forward to reinforce growth in group development or backward to handle a regression. Self Managing Teams The final stage of the team development cycle, Performance, is characterised by the ability of the team to 'self manage' and the greatest need of the team at that stage is the freedom to do so. With this as a goal, one may consider the role of team leader to be a temporary support function - providing the structure which enables the team to operate effectively until such time as it can support itself. Co-ordination or structure is still necessary at Stage Four, although the provision of this in a team is a role which may be passed around, indeed one might argue that it should be passed around if it is to avoid attracting the unnecessary and unhelpful attributes of 'status'. The status of 'team leader' is a product of our own unconsciousness, reinforced by the corporate structures of the past. Abolishing the role of team leader (a person) and replacing that role with a co-ordinator or facilitator (a function) will not automatically prevent our inherited mental models about topdown management and leadership from influencing behaviour. The key issue for self managed teams, therefore, is to recognise the need for co-ordination and to see this as a necessary, all-be-it temporary, service function which should not be confused with the role of team leadership as it is traditionally understood. Unless this point is fully appreciated then a self managing team may run the risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water, i.e. providing no internal structure in case it is perceived as leadership.

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