The importance of being able to adapt leadership styles to the needs of the business
If an organisation is going through lots of change and growth it can often cause disruption that means they need a little bit of help.
There are also external factors that businesses need to consider, after all we live in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, where leaders are required to adapt their styles to overcome challenges being faced.
But when talking about leadership, it often begs the question: what are the traits and competencies that make a successful leader?
Behaviours and Interpersonal skills
The ability to empower and inspire others on the journey, sharing and maintaining a compelling vision to motivate people, and get buy in to organisational goals, creating momentum and excitement through storytelling.
There’s a conception that leaders are always the boss, but you only need one person to follow you to be classed as a leader, and that happens at every level of the business.
For success leaders need to communicate openly and effectively, provide direction, and be committed to engaging with their people to build trust; with high levels of emotional intelligence, they share values, and show empathy as they really care.
Creating the right environment
It’s important that leaders can adapt their style to create a supportive environment for the team and empower people, finding opportunities for people to showcase their abilities and recognising contributions.
People want a safe environment where they can do their best work. Building an environment on trust, that is engaging, supportive, empowering with autonomy enables people to thrive.
It’s important to know when it’s appropriate to use different styles and be able to adapt to people and business needs.
For example, you may well need to be a transformational leader if the business is going through lots of change. In that case leaders will need to make difficult decisions and take appropriate risks, this requires a trusting environment, to bring people on the journey and enable people to continue to do their job.
As a leader, it’s also vital they can focus on themselves, others, and business need, and be decisive in decision making to support different needs. Showing an element of vulnerability at times helps people to relate to them.
In that sense it’s very important that leaders can ‘walk-the-walk’. What are the motivating factors for your people? How do they want to learn? It’s about understanding the motivating factors about why people do things.
Effective leaders need to be able to empower and engage people to create a safe environment that promotes innovation and creativity.
There will be times when difficult and tough decisions need to be made. In those times leaders need the ability to communicate effectively to share the appropriate story and key messages with people to minimise resistance and understand impacts.
People need to be able to relate to leaders. The business is taking its people on a journey. Culture and values will play a part in leadership style, but so will other factors such as trust, business need, and direction.
Developing and maintaining high performing teams
Developing a high performing team is also integral to the success of any organisation. Ensuring that there are opportunities to develop people, keep talent motivated, and championing continuous improvement and learning, will help the business and its people to thrive.
For example, Tuckman’s famous group development stages of ‘forming-storming-norming-performing’ is a well-known model for creating an effective group function.
From a leadership perspective, at every stage of this model, a leader needs to be able to support their team, but the emphasis should be on minimising disruption to the business and supporting the team to get back to performing stage.
People tend to see this model as a linear process but it’s an iterative cycle, and every time a team’s dynamic changes it goes back to the ‘forming’ stage. If one person leaves it changes how teams work. Likewise, if you change the team’s roles and responsibilities, it changes the dynamic. Depending on the scale of change, the time to work through the stages will vary.
It’s about understanding the needs of your people and being able to support them, and that is where leadership plays a key part.
Do you understand your people, and how to get the best out of them, to get the most for your business?