There is a yawning gap between high- and low-performing organizations.
Why is this?
It's the people.
As Peter Drucker advised, "Of all the decisions a manager makes, none are as important as the decisions about people because they determine the performance of the organization."
Or, as Stephen Covey said, "The frontline produces the bottom line, so that's where you want to concentrate your development efforts."
And when it comes to people, the so-called "soft" side of business - which is so hard for most business leaders to do - the big difference is the dynamic application of leader/manager styles.
Being an effective leader/manger means you are both competent and motivated to choose the correct leader style in different circumstances.
People are not showing initiative? Are they not being account-able? It’s most likely because you are using the wrong style with their level of development. Working with people is like playing golf. You need to choose different approaches for different situations.
No matter how hard you try, or how skilled you are, things get rough. The key is to flex to the circumstances to work your way out of the rough.
So, an effective leader/manager learns how and when to use the four different leader styles.
1. Showing Style
The Showing leader style is directive, instructive and close in. Showing is most effective when the person or team is just developing their competency to do the task.
You will be seen as autocratic if you use it incorrectly.
When people say they want, or need, more leadership, they usually mean they're looking for more direction, more supervision, or more instruction about how to do their job better.
Showing - incorrectly referred to as command-and-control - is frowned on these days.
It is the style the manager must use in new, unfamiliar, or critical situations when the person or team is learning a new task.
If Showing is not your natural style, there are some things to learn to become more effective at Showing.
Ten Showing behaviours:
1. Get clear on the task. Plan better to be prepared. 2. Keep the end in mind. What is the desired outcome? How will the person know when they are doing the task well? 3. Practice so that you know what you’re doing. 4. Get skilled at assertive language. Speak clearly. 5. Keep the communication short and to the point. Cut the stories. 6. Be active, engaging, communicative. 7. Encourage the person a bit. 8. Be decisive: make up my mind and go with it. 9. Be ready to change if new information or feedback makes it necessary. 10. If someone has made me aware of something, acknowledge her/him. It is easier to start with a “hard-showing" approach and "soften" or adjust it later than to lead with a "soft" style and "harden" it later.
2. Focusing Style.
The intent of this style is to keep people on track as they move along on their development.
Showing style is top-down (i.e. from leader/manager downwards).
With your Focusing style you start engaging the person in two-way conversations to find out what they are capable of so you can Show them the way. The Focusingstyle is interactive with the leader/manger leading the two-way conversation. You work things out together.
Focusing is the most effective style to use when there is conflict with the person or team.
Some techniques to use Focusing:
1. Assume that in every conflict, there is a solution in which both sides (me and the team) can win-win. 2. Voice your own position clearly and consistently, while also encouraging others to voice theirs. Listen actively. 3. Deal with issues, not personalities, nor attitudes. 4. Find the emotional blocks such as their fears and anxieties. These often result in people playing games. Knock these down by saying what they are. 5. Look for common ground. Can't find it? Define it. Work it. 6. Try to identify people's common intentions and goals. 7. Negotiate to find a do-able solution based on principles. Be clear on the goal. 8. Follow-up to review and revise frequently.
3. The Facilitating Style.
Showing style emphasizes task before process.
The Facilitating style integrates process and task. It is highly interactive, with the leader/manager turning the direction of the conversation over to the team.Facilitating is the style to use when you need to get input from your team and want them to take more responsibility for resolving issues.
Actively listen to what they have to say. Silently wait until people come forward. S/he who speaks first “owns the monkey.”
Seek to understand and clarify the issues and people's styles.
The Showing style calls for a typically more assertive approach - hard.
A Facilitating style calls for a typically two-way conversational approach - softer.
To master the Facilitating style, hone your Emotional Intelligence skills because Emotional Intelligence is the oxygen of leadership and management. Use the following approaches:
1. Pull the team together to review A. What’s working well? B. What needs improvement? C. What might you do to improve? 2. Avoid unnecessary meetings with individuals or you will engender mistrust and suspicion. Keep updates to maximum of 15 minutes. 3. Involve the team as much as possible. 4. Be open to the brutal facts, which may include my ineffective, troublesome behaviours. A question to ask is, “What am I doing that gets in the way of you doing your job well?” 5. Make sure you are competent and motivated to do active listening. 6.Facilitate (draw out) everyone's input. Facilitation is designed to increase people’s account-abilities. 7. Address people who don't speak up. Make it clear they are expected to voice their opinions. Seek and support contrarian views.
4. Delegating Style.
You only use Delegating style when people have clearly demonstrated that they have both the competence and motivation to consistently do the task well.
If you’re not used to Delegating, you may feel like you’re losing control or abdicating your responsibilities.
Done right, at the right time, will make your job much easier and the people reporting to you will show more commitment to do the job well.
If you do not see people being committed and account-able, it is highly likely you are using the wrong style with their level of competence and motivation. WhenDelegating, you hand over the task to others because they have clearly demonstrated that they are competent enough and well-motivated to do it on their own. They just keep you informed of their progress.
For many managers/leaders, this can be the most difficult style to use because they think they have to be in control at all times. Delegating means letting go of control, getting out of the way, so that the team can get the job done.
Some ways to enact your Delegating style:
1. Give people room to try things out. Make it clear to them that if they get stuck, ask you for help. 2. Ask questions: "What would you do?"; "What do you think we should do?” 3. Resist the urge to jump in and rescue them when things go wrong. Let them sort it out. 4. Be clear. Let people know that you have confidence that they can do it. If they need some input check in. 5. Praise successes, progress and close approximations. 6. Keep the “right” distance: Not so close that they think you’re checking up on them, not so far away that they feel abandoned. There is a big difference between checking in and checking up. Know the difference. 7. Check-in occasionally. "How's it going?"
Developing the competence and motivation to flex into these four styles, as is appropriate for the competence and motivation levels of your followers, will go a long way to helping people become self-reliant achievers.
• Your workload will decrease. • Your frustrations with "people-problems" will be greatly reduced. • Your job will be much more fun. • Your followers will respect you and be more easily influenced.
You won't always get it right. But as you develop my skills in diagnosing what's the right style to use, you'll learn what your most effective actions should be.