In the ever-changing economic climate, businesses must stay flexible and ready to meet any and all challenges head on in order to be successful. Especially in a family business, leadership skills are key to ensuring that a company can respond quickly to changes and readily adapt to them. The most effective business leaders don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach; they are the ones who choose a leadership style that helps them to efficiently achieve the company’s goals. If the goal is to build an organization that is flexible and adaptable, a situational leadership style may be the way to go.
Situational leaders approach things on a task-by-task basis. They identify the employees’ commitment, willingness and ability to get the job done, and then they adapt a specific style of leadership for that person or team to achieve the highest level of productivity. This style of leadership requires that managers be observers and that they have a keen sense of what drives people, but they also need the right foundation, framework and support in order to truly be effective.
Expecting managers and supervisors to just “wing it” when it comes to situational leadership can have disastrous results. Instead, give them the knowledge they need by running formal training sessions on how to be an adaptive leader. The core of the training should revolve around the four types of situational leadership — telling, selling, participating and delegating — as well as the difference between directive and supportive behaviors and how to identify which types of personalities require which approach.
Adopting the right corporate framework gives managers and supervisors the support they need to adopt a situational leadership style. Consider a more strategic approach of dynamic cross-functional teams rather than static departments to reinforce the company’s commitment to flexibility. With a fluid type of leadership and dynamic corporate structure, your company will be poised quickly respond to changes as they arise.
Lead by Example
The best way to support your company’s management as they adopt a situational leadership style is to lead by example. Show your managers the way it’s done in your dealings with them and their teams, and be the leader you want them to be. Create an atmosphere where they feel free to flex their new leadership muscles to achieve the company’s goals. You’ll find that this not only helps them to grow as situational leaders, but it will also increase morale and set the teams on a path where they can work together in an efficient and productive manner.
Give your managers encouragement along the way, and let them know when they’re on the right path. Whether your business is privately owned or publicly traded, the employees need to know that you support them in what they are trying to achieve and how they are going about getting there. Run short seminars every now and then to reinforce situational leadership skills. This not only keeps them focused, but it gives them the opportunity to identify the things that they are struggling with in a positive way and then get the coaching they need to turn things around.
Use positive reinforcement to reward your managers and supervisors when they show the leadership skills you need. This can be something as simple as public recognition in a meeting with them and their peers, or it can be something a bit more tangible. When they demonstrate proficiency or excellence in their new-found situational leadership skills, consider a raise, a bonus or a promotion to show them that you recognize their achievement.