Monday, May 2, 2016

A Modern-Day View of Situational Leadership

Cartoon of wo women walk along the street. One has a man hanging on to her ankle. She explains to the other: "A good team leader inspires intense loyalty."

The cartoon may be a bit extreme but it does illustrate how much our view of successful leaders has changed. It used to be that leaders were to be feared. They led powerful armies, built their empires through force and then secured them by the strength of their personalities. Think of Genghis Khan, Caesar, and Napoleon.   These infamous leaders are mostly remembered as ruthless, egotistical, charismatic and driven by short-term gains.  Genghis Khan, for example, cold-bloodedly conquered and ruled the most continuous empire in history - a self-made kingdom of nearly twelve-million square miles which survived for nearly seven hundred years.  

But times change.  Today’s effective leaders are very different. Their power comes from a different source. They don’t conquer with weapons of war. They lead with a different kind of strength.

Servant Leadership.  Instead of expecting to be served, the best leaders feel a mission to serve their constituents.  Successful leaders rely upon their teams to get things done. They know they can’t succeed on their own. They need the collaboration, accountability and commitment of their employees. 

Today’s best leaders don’t inspire through force but through trust. Because their employees believe in their integrity, leaders are able to lead. They are respected because they deliver on what they promise. They look out for their teams and their teams respond by looking out for them.

Likeable Leadership.  Recent research seems to support the belief that effective leaders are generally  liked by those in their organization. We all know it is easier to work hard for someone you appreciate and admire than for someone you dislike. As with any relationship, you feel more engaged and committed when you are with people you want to spend time with. So forget the domineering, hard-hearted, even cruel boss. The studies show that hated leaders have less than a .05% chance of being effective. 

Developmental Leadership.  Good leaders know how to develop others. Somewhere along the line they must have been exposed to the tenets of situational leadership training. They have a facility for recognizing strengths in their followers and providing helpful feedback. They seem to know intuitively how to motivate their followers to ever greater achievement. They know how to set clear expectations and then provide the resources needed to accomplish the tasks at hand. 

Personally, we prefer the more modern style of situational leadership. How about you?

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