By Vicki Wrona, PMP
Often in project management classes we teach the concept of situational leadership, which suggests that you should adjust your leadership style based on the readiness level of the person or group you are leading. That is a good theory, but on top of that you should also consider other factors, leading to a management style that adapts not only to the ability and willingness of the person or group involved but also to the intended outcome. Let me explain.
With situational leadership, your approach as a manager will vary depending on the readiness level of the person you are managing at the moment. For example, if the person or group you are managing is new to the type of work you need them to do, you will take a more direct style and explain to them what needs to be done and how to do it. This allows them to fully understand what needs to be done and to deliver that work with success, theoretically moving them up the readiness scale and ensuring they are able and willing to do this work the next time it is needed. If the person you are managing is already an expert at the work to be done and willing to do the work, you can delegate the task to them, being available if and as they need support.
On top of that, you need to take into account other constraints and the intended outcome. For example, if you need something done right away because you are on a tight deadline, a direct style, or push approach, works. This allows the person or team to complete the work quickly without having to spend time determining how to approach the work. This also works when the job to be done is smaller or more trivial, avoiding unnecessary discussion and debate.
If, however, you need the person or team to be more engaged or fully vested in the work, a pull approach is more appropriate, even if (and I would especially if) time is short. This approach allows people to participate in “how” the work will be done, allowing for multiple viewpoints to be considered. Doing this will not only increase engagement, involvement and buy-in, but can also (hopefully) lead to a more efficient approach or better solution. This is appropriate for work that requires more buy-in, is more complex or risky, or that which has a higher profile or visibility.
Managers with more experience know they need to vary their approach and they know how to do this effectively. We all have a preferred style but we know, or need to learn, to develop and use various approaches where applicable to be a good leader.
Are you properly varying your approach based on what’s best for that situation?
Full Course: Leadership Lessons That Work (4 days)
Click here for our full list of available courses!
Are You Doing Both?