Mills: Flexible leadership improves decision-making process
There has been much written about leadership styles, but sometimes it is hard to understand which strategy is the best one.
The reality is that no single approach works all the time.
The most successful leaders are flexible and able to draw on different styles as needed.
In order to do that, you need to first understand your current leadership style.
Are you the boss who tells everyone what to do all the time? Or are you someone who gives little direction or feedback to your team?
Likely you’re somewhere in between these two extremes.
Whichever way you naturally lean when you’re in charge of others, why not stretch yourself and try out different approaches?
Adapting your leadership style can make a big difference in achieving the results you need.
Let me expand on this suggestion by offering a blended model of four leadership styles—Tell, Sell, Consult/Collaborate and Delegate.
Looking at how each of these is used in decision-making will demonstrate how they work best.
First, the Tell approach is very useful when you, as a manager, have already been told what to do and need to make sure it gets done.
In certain business situations where urgent action is required, the Tell style is a viable option.
When you explain to your team why the outcome is already set and give them clear directions on what needs to get done, they are likely to be more cooperative.
The Sell style of leadership is effective when buy-in and support for a decision is needed.
This works in a situation where you have already made up your mind on an issue but you need to have your team on board in order to move forward.
It requires a balance of communicating your idea and decision clearly, explaining what you expect to happen and then asking for your team’s support.
The third leadership style involves Consulting and/or Collaborating with others.
This works well when you have a general vision of what you want and need more outside input to help refine the idea.
For instance, you may ask others for their creative ideas, another “set of eyes” to see if something is missing or simply a reality check to figure out if your idea is even feasible.
This style draws people deeper into the process but still leaves the final decision with the leader.
The fourth and final style is Delegating.
There will be times when you know your team can make decisions without your direction because they have the expertise, confidence and resources to do so.
This leadership approach requires you to clarify expected outcomes, confirm understanding of those and then turn it over to the team to figure out how to get there.
Of course, you will want to check in on their progress periodically and provide any support they may require.
When it comes to important decision-making, each of these leadership styles can be effective.
The trick is to find out which one best fits the situation and your particular team. You won’t always get it right and that’s OK.
Becoming a better leader takes a lot of practice.
Laurie Mills is a certified coach and human resource professional. Her company is Lighthouse Professional Development Consulting Services. The subject matter in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional advice.