What is your leadership style? Whether you are the CEO or you manage a team of 2, you have a style. Do you tell everyone exactly what you expect and how to get it done or do you ask for input on the outcome of a project? Are you disappointed when a project is late but can't tell where it went off the rails? Or are you involved in every step of each team members process? Or are you somewhere in between?
Ideally, your leadership style is based on the situation you're facing, the makeup of your team and the scope of the task you're approaching and not solely on your personal preferences.
In the late 1950's, leadership theorists Tannenbaum & Schmidt, outlined seven leadership styles starting at rigid authority and ranging to full team freedom. Here are the styles of leadership they outlined: See where you default and which style seems best for where your team is right now.
Highest use of authority: THE TELLER: The teller makes the decision and expects the team to follow. This style can be very frustrating to team members that are experienced but it can help guide and mold newer, less experienced team members.
Strong use of authority: THE SELLER The seller makes the decision, but provides a rationale for it. The decision won't be changed, but the team may feel that its needs are being considered.
Moderate use of authority with a dash of freedom: THE SUGGESTER: The suggester outlines the decision, includes a rationale, and asks if team members have any questions. They know that they've participated in the decision. This style can start to build trust.
Balanced use of authority and a strong dose of freedom: THE CONSULTER: The consulter proposes a decision and then invites input and discussion, which allows the team to influence the final outcome. This style acknowledges that the team has valuable insight to offer and implements suggestions frequently.
Balanced use of freedom and a does of authority: THE JOINER: The Joiner presents the problem and asks the team for suggestions about how to resolve it. Decision making is a collaborative process, and the team feels valued and trusted.
Strong use of Freedom: THE DELEGATOR: The delegator outlines the problem and allows the team to find solutions. The team makes a final decision, but the leader remains accountable for the outcome.
Dominant use of Freedom: THE ABDICATOR: The abdicator asks the team to define the problem for itself, and decide how to solve it. The team makes the final decision, but the leader is still responsible for its outcome, be it a success or a failure.
When teams are more developed, more mature, leaders are more able to lean toward the freedom side of the scale. Younger teams often need a stronger authoritarian style to keep them cohesive and on task. The challenge is to change style as the circumstances shift, to remain aware of those shifts and sensitive to the needs of your team and your company and not to get stuck in a preferred leadership style, rather to ebb and flow with the times.
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