The ‘One Minute Manager’ series of books created by Ken Blanchard and some co-authors are a great source of inspiration and guidance. Their simple format is easy to grasp and as the title suggests quick to read and reflect upon.
One of the key titles in this series is ‘Leadership and the One Minute Manager’ where Ken Blanchard discusses four distinct leadership styles under the heading of Situational Leadership.
By being consciously aware that we may need to adapt our management and leadership style we can achieve greater behavioural flexibility and effectiveness.
1. Directive Leadership
This style of leadership mainly involves telling people what to do and involves one-way communication. The idea is that employees do what they are told and have little input into how or why it is to be done. If you are already familiar with other leadership styles this one equates to authoritative style or put simply, ‘My way or the highway!’
Directive leadership is best used when people are new to a role or task and don’t know what they are doing. This style is also more effective in emergency situations.
2. Coaching Leadership
The next level of leadership up from the Directive style encourages the person being lead to have a greater involvement in the task. They are asked to start thinking for themselves and communication begins to be more two-way than in the previous style. The ultimate decision as what to do still rests with the manager and it just means that the views of the employee have more value than before.
Using a more Coaching leadership style is best employed as a person becomes more familiar with what they doing. There is still a large element of direction from the manager and also a greater degree of support and recognition of the skills of the employee.
3. Supportive Leadership
The supportive style provides less direction for the individual and more support. This is because it is aimed at people who already know how to do the job in terms of skills and experience but who may be lacking motivation or confidence.
The support provided in this situation may include understanding the current level of motivation and the factors that might be affecting their confidence. It might be that they have very high work volumes and they are prioritising other tasks differently to the way you want it. Helping them to set priorities might be an example of how you can help in this situation.
4. Delegation Leadership
This is the ultimate goal for most managers where they can delegate tasks to people knowing that they can trust the person to complete it without problems. This person can make decisions in a similar way to the manager without reference to them.
When using this level of leadership with people it is still important to recognise their efforts rather than just take them for granted. It is also essential that safeguards are built in to monitor progress just in case they make a mistake which we are all capable of doing however good we are.
The key to understanding and applying Situational Leadership is to apply the best style according to the person and the task they are facing. To understand more, read Ken Blanchard’s book or join our Essential Management Skills open course where it is discussed in more detail. Please contact us to find out more.