How to be a flexible leader 8 styles for different situations

Different work situations call for different leadership styles, and most managers use one of two approaches: dominance or prestige. When you lead through dominance, you influence others by being assertive and leveraging your power and formal authority. This approach works best when your job is to get everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. […]

Different work situations call for different leadership styles, and most managers use one of two approaches: dominance or prestige. When you lead through dominance, you influence others by being assertive and leveraging your power and formal authority. This approach works best when your job is to get everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. […]

Different work situations call for different leadership styles, and most managers use one of two approaches: dominance or prestige. When you lead through dominance, you influence others by being assertive and leveraging your power and formal authority. This approach works best when your job is to get everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. When there is a clear strategy for a new product launch, for example, and the challenge is in getting your team to enact that vision, dominance is an effective way to create a unified front. Prestige, in contrast, means influencing others by displaying signs of wisdom and expertise and being a role model. This approach works best when you’re trying to empower the people who report to you. If a marketing team is charged with creating an innovative advertising campaign, for example, a prestigious leader can release the constraints on team members and encourage them to think outside the box. Maturing as a leader means being able to diagnose what type of leadership is needed and deploying the strategy that is likely to work best.

Different work situations call for different leadership styles, and most managers use one of two approaches: dominance or prestige. When you lead through dominance, you influence others by being assertive and leveraging your power and formal authority. This approach works best when your job is to get everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. […]

As we continue our month focussed on leadership development, including coaching & mentoring, it’s great to welcome another coach as a guest blogger. Kevin Watson is director & lead coach at myown-coach.co.uk and benefits from a broad experience of coaching leaders across industries. In this post, he shares the importance of being flexible in your leadership style.

My own experience, both as a customer insight leader & when coaching leaders, confirms Kevin’s proposition here.

Having the self awareness and flexibility to adapt your leadership style to the needs of your team or stakeholders, can make a big difference.

To discover your leadership style(s) and what Kevin means by ‘behavioural flexibility‘, over to our coach…

What is your leadership style and what does this mean to you and your team?

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting there’s a right or wrong style. Leaders need to adopt an appropriate style to fit the specific situation and person.

What I am saying is that some leadership styles are better suited to certain situations than others. For, if you keep to the same style no matter what the situation, it will have an adverse affect.

A broad bandwidth of styles, that a leader can adopt according to the situation or person, is therefore an essential part of any great leader’s kit bag.

Some years ago, Goleman completed a three-year study with over 3,000 middle-level managers to identify specific leadership behaviours. He and his team also determined each behaviour’s effect on corporate culture and bottom-line profitability.

This research revealed that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the organisation’s profitability!

Think about it…that is too large an impact to ignore!

Organisations spend vast amounts on new processes, efficiencies and cost-cutting that often don’t amount to much more than one percent to the bottom-line.

Now, compare that to simply inspiring managers to be more flexible with their leadership style.

Still having to think about it?

Of course not…it’s a no-brainer!

Six Emotional Leadership Styles

In case you haven’t come across them before, or you simply wish to be reminded, here are Goleman’s Six Emotional Leadership Styles, along with a brief summary of the effects of each style:

COERCIVE

The leader who uses this style is intent on obtaining immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.

Conversation is purely one way, highly directive. The COERCIVE leader tightly controls situations and emphasises negative rather than positive feedback.

Most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire.

However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

AUTHORITATIVE

The goal of the AUTHORITATIVE leader is to provide focused leadership, mobilising the team toward a common purpose whilst leaving the means up to each individual person. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.

Characterised by long term thinking and a clearly stated direction, decisions are made by the leader with some input from the team to test the decisions. This leadership style relies on influence to gain buy-in to decisions. A firm but fair approach.

The AUTHORITATIVE style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed. Leaders adopting this style inspire entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the organisation’s purpose.

It may not be the best fit when working with an established team who know more than the leader.

AFFILIATIVE

A leader uses this style to promote harmony, cooperation, and good feelings among the team. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.

Affiliative actions include accommodating family needs that conflict with work goals, quickly smoothing tensions between employees, or promoting social activities within the team. The leader pursues being liked as a way to motivate people, often putting people first and tasks second.

This style works best in times of stress, or when teammates need to rebuild trust.

This style should not be used exclusively, as sole reliance on praise and nurturing can lead to mediocre performance.

DEMOCRATIC

The DEMOCRATIC leader builds consensus and commitment through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?

Requires a hands-off style and a trust in people to have the skills, knowledge and drive to come up with decisions to which everyone is committed. The leader’s role is simply to fine-tune and approve the plan.

The DEMOCRATIC style is most effective when the leader needs the team to take ownership of a decision, plan or goal.

It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence, or when teammates are not informed enough.

PACESETTING

The PACESETTING leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.

Leaders use this style when there is a focus on quality work, by demonstrating the standard themselves. Although people are thought capable of achieving their own goals with little supervision, when performance is not up to standard, the pacesetting leader will do it!

This style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results.

Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and stifle innovation.

COACHING

The COACHING leader is directed towards professional growth, developing people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.

This style focuses on helping employees identify their strengths and weaknesses, setting development plans that include career goals. COACHING Leaders create an environment that supports open and honest feedback and treats mistakes as opportunities to learn.

The COACHING style works best when the leader wants to build lasting personal strengths that make the team more successful.

It is least effective when people are defiant and unwilling to change or learn.

Call to Action

Rather like personality styles, you will find you have a dominant style, one that you use more than any other. But, it is far more interesting to explore the mix of styles you use, how often you use them and useful they are.

Think about it for a moment. What styles do you use most often?

Have they been effective for the situations you’ve used them?

And, what styles do you use least often?

Or, are you a one dimensional leader that uses the same style over and over again?

If so, what could you do to develop your skills in the other styles?

Today’s most successful leaders are exceptional managers of people. Are you?

Take a step back and think about each of the individuals you lead. Consider the value they bring to your organization and the manner in which they contribute. Reflect upon their individual styles of getting the job done: Do you have highly motivated, experienced, self-driven types who need little more than a clear mandate and plenty of room to make things happen? Do you manage individuals who are newer to their roles, less familiar with the terrain and perhaps in need of greater direction from you? Which of your folks thrive with a steady stream of feedback? Who might perceive that as micromanagement?

On any given team, you will have people with a variety of strengths, backgrounds, personalities and work styles. To lead most effectively, you need to modify your management style to accommodate the needs of each team member. The flexible leader recognizes that there is nothing inauthentic about modifying his or her approach as needed.

Here’s the approach I recommend to my clients:

Assess your team. In order to apply a flexible leadership style, you must first understand the way each of your team members works best. Start by asking the right questions:

How can I best help you succeed?

How much direction do you need from me?

Do you prefer to make decisions autonomously or would you rather obtain my guidance and approval before moving forward?

Do you prefer frequent discussions around progress toward goals or would you rather come to me only when there are key issues to be addressed?

How much feedback do you require in order to know whether you are on the right track?

For newer team members, you may also want to confer with their previous manager in order to gain perspective on what worked best. The more information you can obtain, the better you can devise a strategy that works.

Create a game plan. Be deliberate here. How will you coach, mentor and guide each of your direct reports? How often will you meet with each of them? In which contexts will you provide various members with concrete direction and where will you let them take the ball and run with it? How will you provide positive feedback and how will you hold each individual accountable, in a way that maximizes your impact?

Work your plan. Once you’ve got your plan in place, stick to it while being mindful that flexibility is sometimes necessary. You may find that different circumstances require a change in approach. Similarly, as individuals develop and mature in their roles, they are likely to require less handholding and more degrees of freedom.

Reflect. Allow some time to pass — perhaps 3 to 6 months — and then reassess. Are you having a positive impact on each member of the team? Is the overall effect one of enhanced team performance? How satisfied, engaged, supported and empowered are your people feeling? Don’t forget to check in with them periodically, to get their perspective and determine whether you need to modify your approach.

Being a fantastic leader requires the flexibility to manage your people in accordance with their needs — based upon their unique strengths, levels of experience and individual styles and preferences. Adapt as needed and you’ll find yourself at the helm of a fantastically motivated, engaged and remarkably effective team.

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Many parents like to send their kids to the charter schools. Charter schools are generally smaller than conventional public schools. They offer innovative ways to deliver a public school education. Charter schools set flexible schedules to meet the needs and preferences of students. Charter schools also set high expectations for learning because they must educate students or risk losing their charter license. Most kids achieve the high academic standard than the conventional public school kids do. Some charter schools use cutting-edge computer programs customized to each student’s strengths and weaknesses to set the different goals for students who are specialized in different fields. Teachers are playing the leader’s role to use the situational leadership approach to lead students pursuing their academic goal based on each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Same as in the company, the situational approach tells us how leader should adjust their behavior depending on the followers and the situations.

According to Hersey and Blanchard (1969) and Reddin (1967), situational leadership theory says that different situations require different kinds of leadership. To be effective, a leader must change his/her style to fit the demands of different situations. Blanchard (1985) and Blanchard et al. (1985) developed a situational leadership II model which includes two parts: leadership style and developmental level of subordinates. Leadership style consists of directive(task) behaviors and supportive (relationship) behaviors. A flexible leader should know all the styles are not fixed, and he/she should adjust the leadership styles based on the subordinate’s competence and commitment necessary to accomplish a given task or activity. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders don’t know the situational approach when they are working with their subordinates in companies. The style approach only describes the major components of the leader behavior, but does not tell leaders how to behave. There was no evidence to show that directive and supportive behaviors were related to leadership success. It was found that the effectiveness of directive and supportive behaviors often depend on the situation.

A flexible leader just works as a charter school teacher. No matter he/she shows directive or supportive behaviors, he/she must know his/her students very well. Sometimes these behaviors can be combined in different ways to make up different styles of leadership. The effectives leader must know their headship style is also influenced by the developmental level of followers. Leaders often have their own leadership style, while subordinates also have their own working style. The situational approach says that employees move forward and back along the developmental continuum. On a particular task, employees can be classified into four categories: D1, D2, D3 AND D4, from low development to high development. Therefore, a flexible leader need to diagnose employee’s developmental continuum in the task and change their leadership styles to match the development level of subordinates. An effective leader always know to use flexibility to help the organization evaluate work processes and priorities and to keep individuals, and the association as a whole, and to focus on where they can add the greatest value.

Blanchard, K.H. (1985). SLII: A situational approach to managing people. Escondido, CA: Blanchard Training and Development.

Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. H. (1969). Life-cycle theory of leadership. Training and Development Journal, 23, 26-34.

Reddin, W. J. (1967). The 3-D management style theory. Training and Development Journal, 8-17.

How to be a flexible leader 8 styles for different situations

The secret to empowered leadership is an ability to adapt in thought, action, and response.

Leadership is challenging. It requires us to inspire and engage followers through complex situations. In his TED talk from March 2011, General Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army, Ret.) commented that leaders are good not because they’re always right but because they’re willing to learn. As accountants, one aspect of our professional life is to stay current with our practice. Developing our leadership skills not only allows us to stretch our abilities but also prepares us for future professional opportunities.

In reality, no two leadership situations are alike because of the variables involved: humans, circumstances, environment, etc. These situationally driven circumstances indicate that no particular leadership style is best, which is the definition of the Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) proposed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. While it could be argued that Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory responds to the variables in any given situation, I have found that SLT doesn’t, can’t, and truly shouldn’t strive to encompass every possible variable. The most effective leaders exercise the ability to respond authentically to an increasingly varied number of situations. This flexibility manifests in a number of ways, including compassionate responses to failure, courageous guidance during adversity, and genuine accolades for success. Therefore, the key to effective leadership is flexibility: in thought, in response, and in action.

FLEXIBLE THOUGHT, ACTION, AND RESPONSE

We’re in a time of rapid change rippling through all segments of society. Political changes, cultural shifts, industry fluctuations, and customer demands point to a need for leaders who are able to respond appropriately in demanding, unique situations. Followers now have a unique dynamic that includes social media, ubiquitous personal technology, and diverse worldviews. In Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends study, the following ideas about current leadership emerged:

* Organizations are undergoing rapid shifts in personnel and direction.

* Employee needs are becoming more diverse than ever before.

* The future of work depends on the quality of today’s leadership.

Leaders must also possess the ability to think about the situation, which really means considering as many of the different elements as is reasonably possible in the time available. Leaders must be able to consider the implications of their current behavior on future situations.

In some situations, you might have days or weeks to consider courses of action; in others, you may have minutes or perhaps even seconds. Either way, an important aspect of flexible leadership is critical consideration of many questions, for example:

* What do my followers need me to do?

* What are appropriate alternatives?

* What’s the best course of action for all involved?

Flexible leaders must act appropriately. For instance, if you’re in an emergency situation, followers need a leader who will remain calm and guide them to safety. Your followers need to know that your actions are consistent with their best interests because then—and only then—will they trust you enough to follow. Since situations require different actions, it’s your job to be flexible enough to act in a way that’s appropriate and trustworthy.

Leaders also must react responsibly. Displaying inappropriate behaviors such as a raised voice, an email typed in all capital letters, or a social media posting that demonstrates negative emotions leads to distrust among followers and dissonance among workers. As human beings, we all experience negative emotions when challenges occur. How we react is our choice; the leader’s actions during adversity influence followers’ attitudes. Flexible leaders take time to react professionally because that sets the tone for their followers.

LEARNING TO BE A FLEXIBLE LEADER

Becoming a flexible leader requires a willingness to learn. General McChrystal commented that he was often mentored by the people he led. In my experience, I can hardly count the number of times that the feedback I’ve received from colleagues and students has taught me something new about my own leadership. I’ve found that, as uncomfortable as it seems, soliciting feedback has helped me to become reflective in my approach and flexible in my response. Furthermore, I have found that my willingness to be flexible has engendered increased trust among my followers.

A flexible leader pays attention to the words involved in the situation as well as what isn’t said. As an example, I’m a professor at a college that specializes in teaching students who learn differently. Teaching these students requires the willingness to listen, to observe, and to notice student behavior because every interaction contains clues about how to lead and engage each student. Remaining open to learning about the person stretches my leadership muscles in new, sometimes uncomfortable, directions. I still experience growing pains on occasion when a situation is exceptionally challenging. But over time the learning experience has always proven valuable.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?

  1. Find a leader you admire. Browse your favorite bookseller, and look for biographies or autobiographies of leaders you admire and learn their story.
  1. Push the edges of your comfort zone. If a situation is uncomfortable, that probably means you have a chance to learn something new.
  1. Believe in your abilities and your capacity to grow. You can develop the flexibility you need if you’re willing to try.

Most of all, realize that becoming an effective, flexible leader takes time and patience. Be open to the experiences, and seek the learning opportunities in each one. As you become a flexible leader, you’ll likely find that your professional effectiveness also increases.

As we continue our month focussed on leadership development, including coaching & mentoring, it’s great to welcome another coach as a guest blogger. Kevin Watson is director & lead coach at myown-coach.co.uk and benefits from a broad experience of coaching leaders across industries. In this post, he shares the importance of being flexible in your leadership style.

My own experience, both as a customer insight leader & when coaching leaders, confirms Kevin’s proposition here.

Having the self awareness and flexibility to adapt your leadership style to the needs of your team or stakeholders, can make a big difference.

To discover your leadership style(s) and what Kevin means by ‘behavioural flexibility‘, over to our coach…

What is your leadership style and what does this mean to you and your team?

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting there’s a right or wrong style. Leaders need to adopt an appropriate style to fit the specific situation and person.

What I am saying is that some leadership styles are better suited to certain situations than others. For, if you keep to the same style no matter what the situation, it will have an adverse affect.

A broad bandwidth of styles, that a leader can adopt according to the situation or person, is therefore an essential part of any great leader’s kit bag.

Some years ago, Goleman completed a three-year study with over 3,000 middle-level managers to identify specific leadership behaviours. He and his team also determined each behaviour’s effect on corporate culture and bottom-line profitability.

This research revealed that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the organisation’s profitability!

Think about it…that is too large an impact to ignore!

Organisations spend vast amounts on new processes, efficiencies and cost-cutting that often don’t amount to much more than one percent to the bottom-line.

Now, compare that to simply inspiring managers to be more flexible with their leadership style.

Still having to think about it?

Of course not…it’s a no-brainer!

Six Emotional Leadership Styles

In case you haven’t come across them before, or you simply wish to be reminded, here are Goleman’s Six Emotional Leadership Styles, along with a brief summary of the effects of each style:

COERCIVE

The leader who uses this style is intent on obtaining immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.

Conversation is purely one way, highly directive. The COERCIVE leader tightly controls situations and emphasises negative rather than positive feedback.

Most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire.

However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

AUTHORITATIVE

The goal of the AUTHORITATIVE leader is to provide focused leadership, mobilising the team toward a common purpose whilst leaving the means up to each individual person. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.

Characterised by long term thinking and a clearly stated direction, decisions are made by the leader with some input from the team to test the decisions. This leadership style relies on influence to gain buy-in to decisions. A firm but fair approach.

The AUTHORITATIVE style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed. Leaders adopting this style inspire entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the organisation’s purpose.

It may not be the best fit when working with an established team who know more than the leader.

AFFILIATIVE

A leader uses this style to promote harmony, cooperation, and good feelings among the team. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.

Affiliative actions include accommodating family needs that conflict with work goals, quickly smoothing tensions between employees, or promoting social activities within the team. The leader pursues being liked as a way to motivate people, often putting people first and tasks second.

This style works best in times of stress, or when teammates need to rebuild trust.

This style should not be used exclusively, as sole reliance on praise and nurturing can lead to mediocre performance.

DEMOCRATIC

The DEMOCRATIC leader builds consensus and commitment through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?

Requires a hands-off style and a trust in people to have the skills, knowledge and drive to come up with decisions to which everyone is committed. The leader’s role is simply to fine-tune and approve the plan.

The DEMOCRATIC style is most effective when the leader needs the team to take ownership of a decision, plan or goal.

It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence, or when teammates are not informed enough.

PACESETTING

The PACESETTING leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.

Leaders use this style when there is a focus on quality work, by demonstrating the standard themselves. Although people are thought capable of achieving their own goals with little supervision, when performance is not up to standard, the pacesetting leader will do it!

This style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results.

Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and stifle innovation.

COACHING

The COACHING leader is directed towards professional growth, developing people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.

This style focuses on helping employees identify their strengths and weaknesses, setting development plans that include career goals. COACHING Leaders create an environment that supports open and honest feedback and treats mistakes as opportunities to learn.

The COACHING style works best when the leader wants to build lasting personal strengths that make the team more successful.

It is least effective when people are defiant and unwilling to change or learn.

Call to Action

Rather like personality styles, you will find you have a dominant style, one that you use more than any other. But, it is far more interesting to explore the mix of styles you use, how often you use them and useful they are.

Think about it for a moment. What styles do you use most often?

Have they been effective for the situations you’ve used them?

And, what styles do you use least often?

Or, are you a one dimensional leader that uses the same style over and over again?

If so, what could you do to develop your skills in the other styles?

We humans need to learn many skills to be able to function most productively in different situations. Learning to be a good and effective leader is one of these skills that can be beneficial both at home while raising children and in the work environment, whether a teacher, a director or a manager. To be a good leader means you can bring your authority out and look at the situation objectively and rationally to see how you want to deal with the issue at hand, and in a way that is proficient to both individuals involved and the system they are a part of. Because if you pay too much attention to one and not the other, then disorder happens.

A good leader, whether a parent, director or a manager:

1. Knows how to calm down: You have to learn to calm yourself down even in the midst of a seemingly chaotic situation. This means taking a break from the situation and using tools like meditation, relaxation, going for a walk, exercise or whatever tool works for you to get your emotions in check and to not overreact. Also, to look at the situation from outside and objectively to see what the best option for dealing with it is. This means you cannot act impulsively, cannot react emotionally and need to do a delayed response and cost benefit analysis for the best option when responding.

2. Communicates effectively: You have to be able to have clear and fair rules and communicate them in a concise, up to the point, straightforward and clear manner so everyone involved knows what is expected of them and how to go about getting the goals accomplished. Communication in an assertive, calm, rational, respectful and confident manner is a must for a good leader.

3. Has reasonable expectations: A good leader brings about goals that are in accord with the individuals’ capability, including strengths and weaknesses, while encouraging individuals to work on becoming fully functioning.

4. Challenges people in moderation: A good leader learns and implements ways to challenge people to become motivated to move forward in life.

5. Does not spoil: This mostly applies to parents where they do not act in a way that would blemish their children up to a point where they lose their sense of appreciation, motivation and empathy toward others. This could happen where children get too much for too little work and do not feel like there are reasonable consequences for their behaviors.

6. Lets individual work out their own problems: A good leader gives individuals a chance to work out their own problems and will moderately support them when needed. This also depends on the situation. For example, for parents, this depends on the child’s age and capabilities.

7. Is a good listener: A good leader is an empathetic listener, meaning he listens to the individual compassionately and tries to help the situation realistically and logically rather than idealistically and emotionally.

8. Has a sense of humor and is level-headed: A good leader knows when to have structure and when to be flexible even with that structure. In other words, he is not fixated and can adjust and knows when it’s time to bend a little and when it’s time to be firm. He also knows when not to take things too seriously.

To be an effective leader in any situation one needs to work on having a sense of integrity, compassion, rationality, honesty and understanding. Learning to have an internal sense of inner calm and balance is also a characteristic that anyone wanting to be a good leader, whether at home or at work, must focus on.

  • flexible leadership

One of the first things that new leaders need to realize is that not all team members respond to direction in the same way.

Leading a team to superior performance requires leaders to flex their natural leadership style to fit the individual and the situation.

Some situations call for task-oriented instruction and specific direction; others require the leader to involve the entire team in building and executing the best possible solution.

For example, when decisions need to be made under strict time constraints, a leader must be comfortable being decisive, moving quickly, and providing clear, precise directions on how the team needs to proceed.

In contrast, leaders will have the luxury of taking a more collaborative approach when there is time to involve others in the decision-making and action-planning process and build long-term support for a new initiative.

Increasing your flexibility as a leader will allow you to be more effective when working with diverse individuals and responding to a variety of situations.

In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing, globally diverse business environment, flexibility is an absolute necessity.

Leaders must be able to respond nimbly and with great speed in an increasingly complex work environment.

While being able to assess the best leadership approach for every situation takes some time and experience, everyone operates with some degree of flexibility, and some leaders are naturally more flexible than others.

However, through self-awareness and hard work, leaders of all stripes can increase their level of flexibility, regardless of their natural style.

A leader’s ability to be flexible is primarily related to the personal relationships that he or she has with others.

Flexible leaders are able to draw people into the conversation and ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to share their views.

The leader is comfortable facilitating and contributing to the conversation rather than dominating it.

He or she is also willing to accept input and doesn’t get defensive when people offer alternative perspectives or disagree with the leader’s views.

Here are ten ways to increase your personal level of flexibility:

  1. Diagnose Before You Respond – Make sure you take the time to examine the task, the needs of the situation, and the capabilities of the individuals involved. Then, choose the best way to respond to each one.
  2. Take Time Out – During the day, step back from your work and assess your approach to leading your team. Do you believe that you are using your time well and that people are committed to your mission? If the answer is “no,” stop and make some adjustments to your methods.
  3. Plan Ahead – Schedule time in your calendar to create your plan and share your vision with the team. Assess which areas would benefit from your team members assuming greater responsibility, and then help them set specific goals related to their areas of contribution.
  4. Clarify Expectations – Periodically review expectations with your team members. Be How to be a flexible leader 8 styles for different situationsclear about what you expect from them in terms of performance and behavior, and ask them what they need from you.
  5. Select the Best People – Build a team of talented individuals who are trustworthy and reliable. Understand their knowledge, abilities, and talents, and then put those assets to work.
  6. Ask for Feedback – Ask your team members if they feel that their talents and abilities are being put to good use and what you could do differently to enable them to perform at their peak.
  7. Build Allies Within the Business – Identify others in the organization who are affected by the work of your team. Build strong relationships with those who can help, mentor, and support you in your efforts.
  8. Sharpen Your Facilitation Skills – Develop your ability to manage conflict and reach consensus in a group setting. Learn how to focus the group’s attention on the topics at hand and lead them to a mutually acceptable agreement.
  9. Manage Your Time Effectively – Anticipate likely scenarios and start working on projects early. Allow enough time for you and your team to learn, experiment, and solve problems together.
  10. Help Others Set Effective Goals – Ensure that your team’s individual goals clearly support the overall vision. All goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, aligned, realistic, and time-bound.

CMOE has been coaching leaders since 1978, and we have developed situational guidelines to help leaders improve their flexibility and the performance of their team in any situation.

Visit our page on Flexible Leadership for more information.

By Leonard Kloeber | Submitted On January 01, 2011

How to be a flexible leader 8 styles for different situations

All good leaders must be flexible and adaptable. Leaders who think they know everything better than anyone else in their organization are likely to fail. The best leaders learn from others, and adapt their plans to changing circumstances. They have the ability to pivot when necessary, but also lead by sticking with core values. Here are three ways that successful leaders succeed by being flexible and adaptable:

  1. Overcoming challenges by learning: Every team encounters obstacles whenever they set out to accomplish a goal. Leaders must help their people and their organization succeed by overcoming these challenges. The best way for any leader to overcome challenges is to step back and see what is working and what is not working. This is a skill called learning agility, and it is a critical skill for all leaders since they can not be expected to know how to do everything. They must “learn how to succeed” as a team. The best leaders institutionalize learning within their organization by coaching their team to periodically assess how they are doing, especially after a major event. By formally gathering their team and discussing what works and what doesn’t work, the leader can set the stage for adapting their approach and making improvements for future success. Large corporations like General Electric have done this by institutionalizing programs like the GE “Workout” workshops, and the US Army has done it with their “after-action-reviews.” Regardless of what it is called, the discipline of institutionalized learning is a key to leadership success, and successful leaders adapt what they have learned to make constant course corrections towards achieving their goals.
  2. Using appropriate leadership styles: Daniel Goleman, an expert on Emotional Intelligence and leadership, outlines six major leadership styles. After extensive research, he concludes that there is no one best leadership style. Leaders must be flexible and adaptable in using a style that fits the situation and their organization. In some instances a democratic style works best when time is not urgent and information can be shared; however in other situations like a crisis, a command style might be more appropriate to make decisions quickly and move out of the danger zone. Thus, the best leaders will be flexible and move from one style to another whichever is most appropriate for their situation and their team.
  3. Adapting plans to changed circumstances: Planning is an essential part of any successful team endeavor; however no plans are perfect and the leader must be flexible to adapt the plan to changed circumstances. Nothing remains constant, and today change is more rapid and frequent than at almost any time in the past. The best leaders plan for the future and for contingencies; however, they also know that plans must be adapted when the planning assumptions are no longer valid. Although the plans may change, the leader will still try to operate in concert with their core values. Thus, they will make appropriate adjustments and continue to move ahead without compromising their basic beliefs and values.

These are just three ways that demonstrate why leaders must be flexible and adaptable. Effective leaders are always in tune to their operating environment. Sometimes this is referred to as situational awareness. They evaluate the information that is available to them and make adjustments in their approach, style, and plans to achieve success, but still remain true to their values. Although leaders need to demonstrate perseverance to achieve their goals, they must also be flexible and adaptable in their approach to accomplish their mission. Knowing when to stand firm and when to be flexible is the art of leadership.