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Delegation by situational leadership

Delegation by situational leadership
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Leadership... a word that even the most experienced management consultants find difficult to define! Every organization needs leaders. Every...

Leadership... a word that even the most experienced management consultants find difficult to define! Every organization needs leaders. Every organization provides a number of training programs to help employees learn and grow to be effective leaders.

Even then, what to do, when, and how, is a constant question of most leaders, especially when it comes to delegating tasks and getting things done by their subordinates. Thus delegation, in many ways, is a skill that is taught and re-taught in organizations for managers and leaders as a continuous learning.

Leadership can be defined in many ways and enacted in many ways from leading our own children as parents; to organizing/managing a basketball team to teaching a classroom of children events, leadership is a key essence of our day-to-day life.

In organizations, from managing projects to employees, from supervising tasks to relationships, leadership is a skill required in every action. Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi were leaders. Jack Welch is a leader and so was Steve Jobs.

Amongst these diverse roles and definitions of leadership, time and again, many individuals have attempted to create frameworks that help managers and leaders delegate more and more effectively, to get the process of getting work done effectively.

Amongst the most popular is the framework of Situational Leadership derived initially by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. They created the four modes of leadership styles as telling, selling, participating and delegating. Later, Ken Blanchard decided to extrapolate this with a different terminology and called it Situational Leadership II. This is the most popularly known model as of date for how to delegate and how much to follow up with subordinates.

The model of Situational Leadership-II can be explained as follows: Depending on the level of the two variables of the team member's competence in the subject as well as the commitment levels, also known as skill-will matrix, leadership during delegation can be categorized into one of the following 4:

Directing: This leadership approach is most appropriate when team members have high willingness and low ability for the task at hand. When they cannot do the job but are excited about it and willing to try, then the leader must take a highly directive role.

Directing requires the leader to define the roles and tasks of the team, and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and communication is usually one-way. The leader need not focus on the relationship or on giving the team member a lot of support in this situation, since giving clarity and directions to the team is more important here. Directing is often used when the issue is serious or comes with drastic consequences if not successful. The leader maintains a directive position to ensure all required actions are completed.

Coaching: This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have high willingness but low to average ability for the task at hand. Like Directing, Coaching still requires leaders to define roles and tasks clearly, but the leader seeks ideas and suggestions from the team member.

They decide on the objectives together and on certain mid-review points of time at which the leader sits with the team member and, based on the questions and progress of the work, can coach the team member.

In this case, decisions usually remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way. Team members needing coaching, require direction and supervision but they also need support and praise to build their self-esteem, and involvement in the task. During coaching, the leader needs to listen, help, appreciate and give feedback to the team member so that they can gain the necessary skills to do the task autonomously next time.

Supporting: This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have high ability but low willingness for the task at hand. Supportive leadership works when the team member knows how to do the job, but is refusing to do it or showing a lack of commitment. The leader then need not worry about showing them what to do, but instead should be concerned with finding out why the team member is refusing and work to persuade him/her to cooperate. The key to supportive leadership is motivating and building confidence in people! Supportive leadership involves listening and making the team members feel good.

Delegating/Empowering: This leadership approach is most appropriate when the followers have high willingness and high ability. Leaders should rely on empowering when the follower can do the job and is motivated to do it. There is a high amount of trust, commitment, and competency that gives confidence to both the leader and the team member that the task will get done well as well as the team member that the leader would empower the team member to complete his/her tasks. Empowering style still keeps the leader involved in the decisions and problem-solving to ensure nothing goes wrong, but execution is mostly in the hands of the team members. Because the follower has the most control, he is responsible for communicating information back up to the leader.

The Situational Leadership model suggests that there is no "one size fits all" approach to leadership. Leaders must first identify their most important tasks or priorities and then consider the readiness of their team members and decide what to delegate and how to delegate. So either direct or coach or support or empower based on the task and the team member....

Change your leadership style... Delegate effectively... You have the power!

Revathi Turaga is an international trainer and inspirational speaker. http://www.revathionline.com

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