Situational Leadership – Delegation

Situational Leadership – Delegation

“They need to delegate more,” is a phrase we often hear when gathering feedback about leaders. While it may be easy to point out, the statement may not be as simple as it looks to act on.
 
Delegation is the pinnacle of situational leadership and leaders can miss the mark here as they enter this exciting phase of leadership if they haven’t brought the person through the other stages of leadership first.

What is Delegating and when do you use this style?


Your ultimate goal in delegation is to have create an empowered individual that has the capacity and confidence to take the task, assignment, or project to successful completion with little supervision. They are highly motivated, driven, and competent to get great results on their own.
 
Just like Supporting, this is very much a follower-driven stage of leadership. You are still “Inspecting what you expect,” but with little follow-up needed. While still need to Champion Success and celebrate their wins, you no longer need to praise every task or achievement.
 
With Delegation, you’ll want to start the process in less stressful times with lower risk in order for them to get comfortable and have a higher chance for success. You will also share more context about organizational goals and constraints so that they can make informed decisions and develop the best approach to reach the goal.

Why is Delegating an important part of your overall leadership?

Delegation is important because at this stage you have a highly skilled person who is very committed and well-developed in their role. As we’ve talked about building bench strength and the one-level-up concept getting people to the delegation phase is seeing this thought come to life.
 
A person at the delegation stage is highly effective in what they do and often contributes in a larger way to the team. They are also downright fun to lead and you have a high confidence that things are going to get done and get done well.
 
As we said at the open, you do need to delegate in order to realize your own full effectiveness and potential as a leader. These people will help take a load off you and act as multipliers in your influence over others.


What are some of the cautions of Delegation?


One of the main cautions of Delegation is that leaders sometimes want to jump straight to the delegation phase of leadership without taking the person through the previous three stages first. This is one of the reasons why someone can struggle with delegation. They may not have the relationship equity, confidence, or capacity to well in their role to be ready to excel at the delegation phase yet.
 
While many people have heard of micro-managers – leaders that are in every nook and cranny of your daily work routine, there is also a less talked about style at the other end of the spectrum; under-managing. Delegation is the go-to style for people who under-manage their team. “Say it and forget it” would be a way to sum up these leaders.
 
Be sure that you’ve walked through the other levels of leadership before arriving at delegation. Once you lead someone in this style, make sure that they have the full support and resources that they need to be successful.

Think back to your time as both a leader and follower. One of the most inconsistent things that a leader can do is to treat everyone the same. Your approach and style should adapt to the nuances and needs of each individual and their unique set of circumstances.  Use situational leadership styles to raise the level of excellence with all your team as they grow towards the future.
 
 
Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Supporting

Situational Leadership – Supporting

Have you ever worked with someone who has all the talent, skill, and know-how in the world and yet still doesn’t believe in themselves quite as much as you do?

While the person could be dealing with Imposter Syndrome, they likely just need more support as they begin to settle in as a subject matter expert and leader in their own right. You’ve built a great foundation with the person through the first two stages. It’s now time to help stand them up to be great on their own.

What is Supporting and when do you use this style?


The supporting level of leadership (sometimes called participating or sharing) happens when the associate is very competent in their role – they know what to do and how to do it, and they collaborate with the leader on decision-making. Associates have a strong hand in determining outcomes at this level.  Associates at this stage are often able to do the job but may be insecure in their role or unmotivated at times to fully buy into a direction or strategy.

Supporting is fundamentally different from both Directing and Coaching. Both of the previous levels are “leader driven”, meaning you are heavily involved and setting the direction and strategy for the person. Supporting flips the dynamic and is “follower-driven.”

Your ultimate goal at the supporting stage is to create alignment with the individual so that they grow in confidence and commitment as well as making sure that they are prioritizing the right items as they do more work on their own. Tap into the person’s desire for impact and sense of meaning or purpose.

Why is Supporting an important part of your overall leadership?


Supporting is a critical stage to help your team through the change in leadership style in order to make it to your ultimate goal of delegation. This is also the juncture where your people are standing up on their own ability to get the job and task done.

You’ll focus less on the assigned tasks and more on the relational aspect. How can you help them grow their confidence in their role? What part of their professional network do they need to grow? Where do they need to step out of their comfort zone in order to reach a new level of excellence?

What are some of the cautions of Supporting?


The supporting style of leadership provides the person with more freedom and less oversight but also comes with quite a bit of change. Their interaction with you is changing, their proverbial safety net is made smaller as you begin to spend more time on other important issues. The dynamic of the relationship begins to change as well. Yes, there is more trust and personal equity together, but with a tradeoff of less face-to-face time.

Associates can get to this stage and then regress back down to the lower levels of leadership. You want to support the person’s growth at this stage, just be mindful to not give them so much space that they feel like you aren’t invested in them anymore. This is one of the main reasons why someone’s motivation and engagement can drop at this level of leadership.

Also, remember that some personalities love the higher touch and recognition from the lower levels of leadership. Be sure to Champion Success as the person continues to grow stronger in their role.

Be mindful to not skip or shorten the Supporting stage of Leadership. The person may have a crisis of confidence as a result and as a result, will second guess themselves even more and carry a higher stress level. Remember that the follower dictates how much time the leader needs to stay in each phase of leadership.

As you continue to grow in adaptive and situational leadership styles, know and understand your default style. This will help your self-awareness to know when you need to push yourself out of your leadership comfort zone in order the lead the other person in the most impactful way.


Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Coaching

Situational Leadership – Coaching

People love coaches. Think of the numerous films and shows that tell the story of a great coach acting as the North Star that guides the team or individual to the initially improbable victory. On a personal level, you may have had a coach in your academic career or hobby that left a lasting impact on you.
 
Coaches are great and the coaching style certainly has its place in your leadership toolbox. While coaching can be fun, it can be a little different than what is portrayed in the movies that we love.

What is Coaching and when do you use this style?

Coaching is for people who have shown some competence and capability in their role and their commitment level to the organization continues to strengthen. The associate is not totally confident in all that they do, but they are getting there.
 
Just like directing, coaching is a very leader-driven stage. Coaching is less telling like in the Directing Stage and is instead more suggesting. Instead of giving all the answers to the person, you are instead offering multiple paths and letting the person think through the best course of action. 
 
Coaching is also a great stage to begin leading by answering questions with another question. Let’s say a person comes to you and asks a question about billing. Instead of giving them the answer you may reply with, “How do you think we should handle the situation?” While coaching in this way takes longer in the moment, it has a high level of payoff because the associate will start thinking through challenges themselves and become proactive in finding an answer.

Why is Coaching an important part of your overall leadership?


 Coaching is a critical stage to ensure that the associate continues to show growth and development, and it’s also a critical juncture in determining their likelihood of sticking around on your team.
 
While we talked about the importance of directing last week, once the person gains enough knowledge to do the job on their own for the most part, they may feel like your directing style is micromanaging them. Feeling micromanaged can lead to disengagement while their commitment to the organization is still forming. This combination can lead to losing good people that should have stayed on the team.
 
It’s important to switch to this style of leadership as they gain a bit of confidence and knowledge. You’ll begin to expand your leadership to building a trusting personal relationship with the person, and while you are still highly involved with the person, it’s a little less than in the directing stage, which means you are starting to get some of your time back to do other things.

What are some of the cautions of Coaching?


The main caution of coaching is that some people get to this stage and don’t want to leave. The person may have a great relationship with you and thoroughly enjoy all the time that you spend together as you coach them. It’s tempting for you as a leader too. In fact, many leaders think of themselves as “coaches” of their teams.
 
Be willing to continue to push for personal and professional growth as you invest in your team.
 


Associates at this level are really starting to come into their own and are beginning to show their potential to be great in the role and contribute in a larger way. Recognize that they have made progress and spend the time necessary with them so that you can develop them to the next leadership style of Supporting.
 
 
Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Directing

Situational Leadership – Directing

We are all on different points of our personal leadership and life journey. It’s important to remember those differences as you coach, develop, and lead others in a positive way. A great leader changes and adapts their style of leadership and communication based on the needs of the individual that they are working with.  Take a blanket approach to everyone and you’ll likely leave the majority of your people longing for a more engaged leader.
 
The Situational Leadership Model covers four styles of leadership that help you understand what the appropriate style of leadership is for each unique person on your team.

The four styles of leadership in this model are Directing, Coaching, Supporting, and Delegating. Today we are going to look at the Directing Style and understand what it is when to use it and how it can make an impact both positively and negatively on others.

What is Directing and when do you use this style?


Directing is the most basic and entry form of these leadership styles. You are typically highly involved with this person in giving direction and feedback. You’ll want to focus on directing work instead of relying on a trusting relationship because it’s very likely that there is not a relationship built with this person yet.
 
These people typically have a lower comfortability of depth of knowledge because they are either newer to the company, their role, or geographical location. Other associates who may be in the wrong role and need remedial help will fall into this kind of leadership style as well. Both types of associates will come to you for direction and need or want more attention from you as they go through their daily work.

Why is Directing an important part of your overall leadership?


There is a reason why some people need this type of leadership. It’s highly likely that they don’t know all of the information in order to do the job to their fullest potential yet.
 
Have you ever started a job and the company just immediately threw you into the work with no direction? How did you feel? Probably overwhelmed, and lost and you had no sense of grounding whether you were doing a good job or not.  It’s imperative that newer associates be led with more of a directing style so they feel equipped to take on their role and know that they have a safety net in you as they grow in confidence.
 
For those that have been around a long time, that require a high level of attention and follow-up, it may seem frustrating to stay in a directing role with them. Shouldn’t they know the direction if they have been around for a long time? It is true that they should in fact be able to handle their role, refusing to direct them, will only compound their shortcomings and they will continue to struggle.  Instead, lean into directing them and work to get to the root cause of why they need the extra attention. As you continue to provide this level of support for tenured people requiring this type of leadership, you may need to do some tough self-reflection to determine if they are in the right role.

What are some of the cautions of Directing?

You certainly don’t want to lead your whole team with a directing style, otherwise, you’ll quickly be known as the micro-manager of the team.  Give your individual people the Directing Style as needed, but be aware that your ultimate goal is to support them so you can begin leading them in a new style (Supportive, Delegation, Coaching)
 
Some leaders like to stay in the Direction phase of leadership because they like to know what’s going on in all aspects of the business. Be willing to change and grow your connection as each individual grows as well.
 
 


Although associates that need this type of leadership typically have a lower knowledge level, they often have a high commitment level. Encourage them as they learn new skills and grow their understanding. Champion Success as they make progress. Remember that your goal is to help them raise their ability and capacity so you can move on to the next phase of leadership: Coaching.
 


Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Have you ever been through a slog of work and thought to yourself, “When is this going to let up?” It may be due to layoffs where you are now taking on an additional workload. Perhaps the team is already short-staffed, or maybe you are going through a major culture change/re-org at your company. Regardless of what the reason is, Unsustainable work expectations may be able to be met for a short time, but shouldn’t be something that you deal with for the long term. 

How to address unsustainable work expectations


While you may not control who and what is thrown at you from a work perspective, there are some ways how you react and respond to those situations. 

Set (and reinforce) boundaries
As much as we want to blame a leader or the organization for unsustainable work expectations, we play a part in the issue as well. When having coaching conversations where the leader shares about their team, it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “They need to learn to say no more,” or “They always take on anything that is asked of them even when they are at capacity.” 

Servant leaders and those aligned with company values like helping others. It’s part of their DNA. Setting boundaries is important to you as an individual and as a leader. If you continuously take on too much, your team suffers because it’s more time away from them, and you suffer, because you are now likely out of balance with your work-life rhythm. 

When someone asks something of you that you know you don’t have the time or capacity to take on, respectfully respond that you can’t take on the ask and give some context as to why. Next, offer some guidance or feedback on how they may get some help in getting the task done.  “I’d love to help, but we are currently at capacity with this project that is due in the coming weeks. Scott’s team may be able to give you a hand with this though. I’d be glad to give you an introduction if you haven’t met him yet.”

Setting healthy boundaries is just as important to you as it is to everyone that you work with. 

Connect to your leader’s intention and give feedback
Unless you have an awful boss, more than likely they have positive intent when they come to you with an ask. Realize that they are coming to you because they have a need, and likely feel confident in your ability to get things done. 

There is a good chance that your leader may not fully realize or understand what your current workload looks and feels like. Be courageous and have an honest conversation with them and share your perspective. If you have a good level of trust and respect with them you may even share some of your struggles and concerns. They won’t know there is an issue until it’s too late if you don’t give them feedback and share your insight and feelings. 

Manage up to your leader
Part of being a holistic leader is the ability to not only lead the team below you but also your peers and those above you as well. Just as you reinforce and encourage your team as they show good behavior and positive impact, do the same for your leader when they give you or help you have a manageable workload and expectations. Show appreciation to your leader during those times to reinforce and influence them as the work continues to evolve. 

In addition to influencing your leader through relationship management, you may also need to drive consistent communications. If your leader doesn’t communicate with you effectively or consistently, you’ll want to be proactive in reaching out and communicating with them. Ask focused questions to understand their expectations and again share your feedback if you feel that there may be a gap or misalignment. Doing this consistently, helps you understand your role better and helps your leader understand what kind and type of communication they need to provide to help you be successful. 

Create a timeline or workflow outline to support your perspective
Sometimes a new work project is thought up and created with positive intent, either for the customer or for the employee. When you are seen as a high performer they may bring you things without realizing what all the ask needs to be successful or how the ask connects or impacts other areas. They just see how you get things done!

Take some time to create a quick timeline or workflow starting from the due date and working backward to the current day. Doing so will help illustrate the extra complexities, prep, alignment, and other resources needed to be successful. It could also be helpful to create a version with realistic expectations or how additional resources would be needed to accomplish the task on the original timeline. 

Prioritize well-being and celebrate success
As you make it through big (and small) projects and workloads, be sure to celebrate your team, and yourself, as part of the process. Your work-life rhythm is just that….a healthy rhythm from one to the other. Sometimes it leans a little more work-focused and other times frees up to allow more personal time and space. Be sure to schedule self-care and personal items and to-dos on your calendar to ensure that you are taking care of yourself well. 

Don’t fall victim to long-term unsustainable work expectations.  Lead your team, yourself, and your leader, to ensure that proper expectations and resources are in place in order for you to be successful. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Meaningful work is something that we crave, whether we think about it and realize it on a daily basis or not.  According to a McKinsey and Company study, 31% of people would quit their job due to a lack of meaningful work. Another study showed that people were willing to give up an average of $20,000 in salary if it meant that they could have a true purpose and meaning in what they do. 

What is meaningful work anyway?


There can be the tendency to think of meaning and purpose in work and gravitate toward service roles such as healthcare where people are on the front lines literally saving lives every day. While those roles can certainly carry a lot of purposes, the reality is that true purpose and meaning varies greatly from person to person.

A study by KornFerry asked people about roles and jobs that found meaning in. 44% of jobs listed as meaningful were identified as meaningless by other people. On the other end of the spectrum, 55% of roles that were identified as meaningless, were identified as meaningful by someone else. 

Meaningful work really comes down to you, but it does often share some themes – A purpose larger than your own, alignment to things that you hold as important, and the empowerment to accomplish that work.  

Connecting to meaningful work impacts the employee and the business


Connecting to meaningful work doesn’t just impact the employee, it’s also profoundly important for the business as well. 

  • A sprinkle of extra effort – Those who identify themselves as having meaningful work, will work an extra hour a week. They are also more likely to take extra training and stretch assignments to broaden their horizon. 

  • They stay longer – People who connect with meaningful work are nearly 70% more likely to stay around in the next 6 months compared to those that aren’t. 

  • Less likely to hit burnout – Those with meaningful work also build a natural resistance towards burnout. Only 6% who are connected to meaningful work experienced burnout in the previous 6 months compared to 75% of their peers. 

  • A better employee experience – A study by IBM and Workhuman showed that a person’s connection to meaningful work had the highest impact on their employee experience.

How to connect people to meaningful work

Connect work to their values –  A lot has been said in our previous shows about the importance of true Values at your company that you speak about on a consistent basis, integrate into performance evaluations, and make a part of your daily work routine. While that practice is essential for a healthy organization, many people don’t share company values in exit interviews when there is a disconnect here. Instead, they’ll share how the company and work are disconnected from their personal values. The gap can often be summed up as the tension between efficiency (or profits) and quality. Ex. care of a patient vs. moving the patient on early to free up a bed. Be aware and help your team balance the tension between the quality of work and business goals. 

Keep things focused on the work they love – People hate busy work and tasks that don’t add much personal value. In health care, clinicians generally don’t enjoy doing all the administrative paperwork. It’s tedious and it takes time away from either serving more patients or being home with their families. I currently work in healthcare and we are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to decrease the time a clinician is spending on a tablet as much as possible. People find meaning in their work when they know what they should be doing. Eliminate as many barriers as possible between your team and the work that they should be doing. 

Empower your people for success – People can either feel empowered or disempowered by the way you run your business and lead your team. When people feel like they aren’t being listened to, trusted with their expertise, or valued for their experience, they will feel a sense of disenfranchisement that leads to a feeling of meaningless work. Be open to feedback that they share around this topic and take it to heart. You hired that person for a reason, and you both want the same thing – to meet the goal that was set out ahead of them in an impactful way. 

Connect them to others – I was once assigned a project to help turn around the retention rate of a key clinical business position. After many feedback sessions and focus groups, the results were clear. It wasn’t the pay or education, but a sense of isolation and disconnection from the organization that led people to leave. It’s hard to sustain work-life on a proverbial island. Be intentional to connect your people to peers across geographical locations and help them build collaborative relationships and connections with others across teams and businesses. People will find more meaning in their work as they have opportunities to connect and lean on others for support and insight. 

Remember purpose is in the eye of the beholder. Help your team members connect the work that they do to their personal values and priorities. Your people will be more fulfilled, give you more effort, and will stay around longer. 

You can find more information on finding purpose in your work in episode 312 – Four Ways to find purpose in your work

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH