Situational Leadership Theory
Average leaders treat everyone on their team exactly the same way and follow the 'policy manual' no matter what. The average leader just wants to move along and not ruffle any feathers, so she just does the same things over and over and over again!
Great leaders have a knack for living out the principles found in Situational Leadership Theory. Sometimes the great leader just 'gets it' and can adapt to changing conditions rapidly and escort his/her team into the future via rapid adaptation.
So, what is Situational Leadership Theory?
Situational Leadership Theory (S.L.T.) is the idea that changing conditions often call for a rapidly evolving strategy with tactics to support the evolution of the team to meet the present challenges. S.L.T. also suggests that great leaders will recognize the special talents & strengths of each team member and then adjust the tactical maneuvers around the strengths of each team member and the collective team.
There is a formal definition of Situational Leadership Theory made famous by Ken Blanchard, perhaps the great leadership Guru of the past 30 years. You can learn more about his theory elsewhere on the web. This page is dedicated to the simple notion that leading requires the ability to deal with ambiguity and yet make quality decisions on the fly (which are skills that can be learned) and that leadership is first of all a 'people-art' because of the people you lead. Each one of the people on your team brings different set of needs, opinions, strengths and education. It's the leader's job of placing the right team member in the right position to maximize the team's gains.
One of the aspects of S.L.T. that Ken Blanchard teaches in his materials is that the leader has to adjust her/his style to match the needs of the person being led. Sometimes a person has a background and skills that allows her to take off with very little supervision while another team member does not have the background needed to take off, so a shift in style toward a coaching/mentoring style is called for. And, if the person being led is half-way good at their job they'll need to be coached differently tomorrow than they were today because they'll become more and more independent of you in most of the day to day tasks allowing you the freedom to focus on higher level priorities.
Average leaders don't adjust, good leaders can adjust some, but great leaders can flex and fly in fluid situations.
To improve your S.L.T. I'm gonna ask you to always keep learning from and about other leaders and try to 'pull back the curtains' and watch how that leader handles the tasks of coaching, mentoring, delegating, overseeing on one project and then with the same person on the next task that the leader will simply delegate the project and stand back and the let his player 'run the play.' This is Blanchard's idea of Situational Leadership Theory in a nutshell. (his stuff is absolutely brilliant, so be sure to read his Situational Leadership Theory materials.)
More on Situational Leadership Theory
Stretching and Building YOUR Situational Leadership Theory Muscles....
1. Watch more college sports, especially basketball as it's a perfect setting to watch great coaches (great leaders) in action where the S.L.T. plays out right in front of your eyes. The coach and team are always working from a 'situational' point of view to work toward winning.
2. Read autobiographies & biographies of leaders who lead impacting lives and learn watch for how the could 'shift on a dime'.
3. Build a strong leadership 'mastermind' alliance and learn all you can from others who have gone before you about how to flex and fly and when to just sit still.
4. Keep learning more here at leadership-theory-styles.com
5. Just watch the news with your 'leadership goggles' on and see what you can learn about how to shift your style to meet the needs of the hour. (I'm not talking about flexing on principles and core beliefs. I'm talking about shifting tactics not flip-flopping on core beliefs.)
6. Eat more lunch! No kidding, find leaders who seem to have a good grasp on adjusting more rapidly and invite them to lunch and just listen to their stories. Emulation will advance you along the rails of leadership ever more rapidly. Nothing wrong with playing 'Follow the Leader' if you're following a Great Leader. Just learn faster from ever more sources and all the time talk to yourself about how you could have coached this player in this situation even more powerfully. This is just great mental exercise that will allow you to 'try on' a lot of different leadership theories & styles rapdly.
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