Driving leaders to move organisations forward

Just as the leaders of your organisation play an important role in the success of your business, the right leadership for your people is just as important.

Different types of organisations have leaders to guide their people towards team and organisational goals. Different leaders leading different types of people calls for different types of leadership styles.

Generally, leadership is perceived as one of two extremes: autocratic and democratic. Autocratic leaders exert almost complete control of every aspect of activity within their teams. Team members usually have little to no say on certain matters.

Democratic leaders are more inclined towards sharing leadership among team members. This is extremely open but can be time-consuming as it is not always clear who the main person making decisions is supposed to be.

The truth is, neither of those styles has the ability to cater to the needs of every single person in your organisation. In fact, there isn’t really any one true and perfect way of leading. Depending on certain factors, your leadership style must match each individual in different situations in order to bring out their best potential.

The best ways to drive our leaders towards success is to equip them with the tools to lead their people in the best and most effective ways possible, all the while inspiring them to reach their full potential. But before leaders even delve into what leadership style best matches the individual and situation, they must develop the skill sets needed to better drive their organisations forward.

First, be “smart” about goal setting. When it comes to setting goals for tasks, no matter how small or large, they must be Specific, Motivating, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable (SMART). The goal you set must contain each element in order for it to be clear and understandable for your people.

Additionally, constantly realigning those goals with your people is as important as making them smart. It ensures that your understanding of the goals is in line with how your people understand them.

Second, diagnose the needs of the individuals in your team regarding particular tasks by understanding their competence and commitment to each task. This is a crucial element in determining the leadership style to utilise when dealing with individuals and their tasks.

Competence refers to both the knowledge and skills required, specific for the task as well as any transferable skills that can be applied. Meanwhile, commitment refers to the confidence and motivation the individual has for the task.

Once you have clearly understood the needs of your team, we move to the third skill –effectively matching the right leadership style with the diagnosis. This is the point where the leadership style used is important. Depending how competent and how committed the individual is, the leader matches a leadership style to effectively cater to their needs regarding their tasks.

A great model that leaders will find helpful is the Hersey-Blanchard situational approach model from the Ken Blanchard Companies. It identifies four types of leadership styles — directing, coaching, supporting and delegating — involving two varying types of behaviours of being directive and supportive in each style.

Directive behaviour refers to structuring, controlling and supervising the task for the individual. This does not mean that the leader is trying to be pushy; rather, she is just giving the clearest directions possible to guide the individual.

Supportive behaviour, on the other hand, refers to listening, praising and facilitating the task for the individual. It includes more two-way communication where the individual is highly involved in the final decision-making for the task.

To clarify, take the example of the delegating leadership style from the four basic leadership styles. This approach can be applied towards individuals who have high competence and high commitment for the task.

When the leader is delegating, the leader approaches the individual with low levels of both directive and supportive behaviour. Simply put, the individuals are competent and committed enough to require little direction and support, and they have control over how they want to get the job done.

As business leaders, understanding your role towards your people is important. Your people may even be leaders of their own teams, so inspiring them and becoming the right role model for them will not only drive them towards their potential, but also drive your organisation forward.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@seasiacenter.com or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa

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