A while back, I designed a seminar called “50 Shades of Leadership” for some HR and CIPD people. Before anyone drifts off into the realms of fantasy, the event was about leadership style and not Business Dilemmas, Strategy and Management aka BDSM !! I gather there has been some recent hullabaloo about a film with a similar title to my post so I thought I might as well add to the general level of distraction to the serious business of work at the weekend. But, enough of this frivolity and let’s get it on with some Leadership thinking:
It may be trendy to think that leadership is all about empowerment, but this is just one of the seven styles proposed by Tannenbaum and Schmidt in their Leadership Continuum, ranging from autocratic to empowered leadership. What can we learn from Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model?
7 Shades of Leadership
1. Leaders need ideally to be adept at using all the styles on the continuum.
2. If they have a deficit in some areas, the next best thing is to hire someone who can deliver the required approach. Better than trying to “fake it”.
3. There are occasions where a “tell” style is appropriate, even if it is not “trendy” in an era where the expectation is to operate towards the right hand side of the continuum. Here’s Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s model as a reminder of the options you have as a leader in any situation.
4. There are other occasions when “empowerment” is either ineffective or downright dangerous. Empowering staff who either don’t know what to do or have no experience of improvisation does not always work when the stakes are high. Paradoxically, empowerment requires strong leadership in terms of creating a shared direction of travel.
5. If you find it hard not to interfere when trying to empower staff, just make sure you are not physically around! Book yourself a holiday or do anything to make it physically difficult to interfere. That does not mean you should not check in occasionally to see how things are going and offer encouragement and coaching if required.
6. If you are trying to use high involvement strategies, remember some people are happy to engage direct, but others may prefer to use remote “nominal” communication mechanisms such as anonymous inputs. Ensure that you enable both means of making suggestions.
7. Do not mix the styles up. For example do not abdicate when you mean to tell people something. Inauthenticity is a killer of leadership credibility.
Just remember that Leadership comes in 50 varieties – well there’s actually only 7 in the model! Use the style that best-fits the situation rather than what’s trendy.
Come along to our Punk Rock Business Event on June 09 in the South East. All kinds of decadent thoughts about leadership, art, business and punk rock will be discussed, but without the use of whips, clips and chains …