Some of the bigger challenges currently faced by corporations are those related to interpersonal communications at every level of the organization.
This issue brings about major consequences when it concerns the interaction between leaders and the members of their team: when messages or instructions are misunderstood, team members make mistakes, they are saddled with rework tasks and they lose time trying to correct those mistakes to achieve their goals. These conditions lead to frustration and end up discouraging team members.
Although leaders always strive to communicate efficiently, the results are not always as good as expected.
A traditional definition of leadership is:
“The process of influencing the activities of a person or team in order to achieve their goals.”
In other words, leaders need team members to perform specific or technical tasks that they themselves cannot carry out anymore.
The skills of every person that starts leading a team evolve like this:
Leaders develop more and more relational skills while they gradually see their technical skills decrease.
This process can be traumatic, and new leaders usually feel insecure at first. Generally, when they start losing their technical skills, but don’t have enough relational skills yet.
In order to fill that gap, new leaders must learn and adopt new techniques to feel more confident and be more effective.
One of the key skills for good leadership is effective communication with the members of the team; however, the usual problem is that this communication is carried out in the same manner for all team members and, in most cases, the result is not what was expected.
A different approach to face this problem, which also helps to adopt new techniques, is the Situational Leadership model.
First proposed by Hersey and Blanchard, it is based on the following assumptions:
- There is not a single and perfect leadership style.
- Different situations require different leadership styles.
- The most effective leaders are those who can adapt their style according to the situation.
This model takes into account:
- The direction, structure and rewards that the leader must give to the team.
- The level of development shown by the attitude of the different members of the team.
This level of development is defined by:
- The degree of motivation associated with performing tasks.
- Their desire to accept responsibility to do the job.
- Their knowledge and skills required to do the job properly.
In this model, the level of development can range from Low (D1) to High (D4).
The following chart shows the different situations in which we can place the members of any team:
In order to provide effective situational leadership, firstly, the leader has to analyze the behavior of the members of the team to be able to place them in one of the four categories described in the figure above:
- S1: the member doesn’t have enough technical knowledge and is not motivated to do the job.
- S2: the member doesn’t have enough technical knowledge but is motivated to do the job.
- S3: the member has technical knowledge but is not motivated to do the job.
- S4: the member has technical knowledge and is motivated to do the job.
Based on the previous analysis, the leader needs to perform different leadership actions with each member of the team, applying big efforts in relational (coaching) and/or in technical training, depending on the case:
- S1: the leader must provide the means to improve the member’s technical skills in order for the member to be more confident, and also must work to increase the motivation to do the job properly.
- S2: the leader must provide the means to improve the member’s technical skills in order for the member to be more confident, and also coach the members that fall into this category to focus them to achieve the goals of the job.
- S3: the leader must provide confidence to members that fall into this category, and reward them for their achievements and build the motivation to achieve the goals of the job.
- S4: the leader must provide the member with the resources needed to accomplish the goals of the job.
The following figure summarizes the behavior that the leader has to adopt, according to the situation:
By working properly with each member of the team, the leader can improve the maturity level and development of the members, moving them from D1 to D4.
At Intraway, we want to have the best team of managers, so we are continuously coaching leaders to develop their skills and achieve a better environment for teamwork, motivation and efficiency.