In every organisation, the most important element that drives business growth is your people. But without the right guidance of leaders, your people might not know the direction they need to take. When it comes to leadership, it is about collaboration between the leader and his or her people.
The truth is, there is no single, one-size-fits-all type of leader. Depending on the individual and the situation and task, leaders are called to provide direction in different ways.
This is where the situational leader comes in. According to The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international leadership development specialist, a situational leader is one who constantly adjusts their leadership style according to development level of the individual or team member involved, the situation they are in and the task they have.
Because there is not a single and best way to lead people, the best approach is to adjust the style when needed. That is what situational leaders do.
As leaders, you understand that each individual in your organisation responds differently to different tasks; therefore, you may need to adjust your leadership response as well. To do this, you need to build a good situational leader skill set.
But how do organisations benefit from developing situational leaders?
The first benefit is having increased clarity on the vision. One of the skills that situational leaders must develop and master is goal setting. This enables them to clarify goals for both the leaders themselves and their people.
Having clear goals helps clarify the direction towards achieving those goals for both the leader and the individual. Subsequently, situational leaders can then identify and adopt effective strategies to achieve the goal.
The second benefit is increased flexibility. Because the situational leaders adapts according to each task or situation for each individual, then there is flexibility in each situation.
The third benefit is increased opportunities for your people to develop in the organisation. The development level refers to the competence (skills) and commitment (motivation) to the task or goal. The leader adopts a leadership style depending on the level of these factors, and the different styles are meant to bring out the potential of the individual.
The situational leader responds to the individual’s development level with the right levels of directive and supportive behaviour in order to enable the individual to complete the task. Thus, a situational leader brings out opportunities for each individual to grow in the organisation.
The fourth benefit is increased motivation and productivity. Both motivation and productivity deals with people’s drive, and are the result of a clear vision, flexibility and development opportunities.
The work environment fostered by situational leaders to support their people should be both directive and supportive as it helps drive them to their potential. Drive and development go hand-in-hand — where there is drive to move forward, there is development for both the individual and the organisation.
The last benefit is increased employee retention. When your people are driven and can see clear ways to develop themselves, all the while aiming to achieve a goal, they will have a sense of purpose and want to stay with your organisation.
Employee turnover is a constant issue organisations face. Not only does it cost a lot financially, but it also is a drain on time, given the need to be constantly bringing in and training new recruits. As leaders, we cannot stop people from leaving. But what we can do is try to support them in the best ways possible in order to reduce the turnover rate as much as possible.
Furthermore, situational leaders can help organisations retain those talents as they are able to manage their teams and individuals in ways that boost morale.
Developing skills and aiming to become a situational leader can be both time-consuming and frustrating. It takes patience, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that the organisation is your people. Without the right guidance and motivation, they will never be able to realise their potential, and this will cost your organisation in ways that can be avoided.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre.
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