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.

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.