Leadership Skills – Lesson 4
An important part of your formal authority as a supervisor is your right to direct, coach and lead your employees and take certain disciplinary measures when these become necessary. This part of your responsibility is a lot like fire. It can serve you well if you handle it properly, but it can cause you a lot of problems if you use it in the wrong way. Good supervisors don’t let their authority go to their head, and they don’t use it like a sledgehammer to pound people into line.
- They avoid acting superior.
- They avoid throwing their weight around.
- They avoid making boastful statements.
- They don’t make mean or cutting remarks to their employees.
Good supervisors do practice good leadership and communication skills. When they must use their formal authority they don’t make a show of it.
- They give orders clearly, calmly, and with confidence.
- They never accuse until they are sure of their facts.
- They listen to what their employees have to say.
- They tell it like it is, without losing their temper or their self-control.
- They show appreciation when work has been well done.
- They remain firm, fair, and friendly.
During the French Revolution, a man looked out a window in Paris and saw a mob going by. He turned to a friend and asked to be excused because, he said, “I must follow them and see what they are going to do. You see, I am their leader.” Whatever we mean by leadership, we know this man wasn’t setting a very good example. Leaders are supposed to lead. If we were to ask a number of successful people what leadership is, we would get a variety of answers.
Successful leaders will differ in their ideas of leadership because good leadership must be suited to three things:
- The kind of people being led.
- The objectives to be achieved.
- The situation in which leadership is being given.
Supervisors are both managers and leaders. As a manager you are responsible for organizing, planning, directing and controlling the work of your employees. However, people won’t automatically be productive, and develop their abilities just because you say so. They need to be led as well. A supervisor must be able to both manage and lead.
The navy used to have a saying, “One volunteer is worth ten pressed men.” (“Pressed men” were those were forced to join and do their duty.) In a company, we can say that a willing and cooperative worker is worth a lot more than a person is doesn’t do any more than is absolutely necessary, and who refuses to cooperate. As a leader, you want all of your employees to be effective, cooperative members of the workforce.
We can generally say that leadership styles fall into either of two camps.
- The directive style is concerned with getting the job done. People who use this style tend to be comfortable making the decisions. They tell and show others what to do. They set the standard of performance and check to make sure these standards are met. They tell others what is expected of them and then they train and monitor to make sure the employee meets expectations.
- The supportive style emphasizes building relationships so people can work in harmony.
People using this style are comfortable explaining decisions, and encouraging others to try new tasks. They share ideas and responsibilities. They coach and encourage employees to maintain high standards.
- Which style (Directive or Supportive) is being demonstrated in each of the following situations?
- A leader makes the decision on appropriate action, and expects others to follow this decision without question.
- A leader trusts employees to do things their own way and trusts the resulting outcomes will be satisfactory.
- “This is our problem, folks. What do you think we should do?”
- “I trust your judgment. Do what you think is best.”
- “If we put our heads together, we’ll find our way out of this.”
- “These are the steps we take to do this job. Start with Step 1.”
About The Situational Leadership Model
The Situational Leadership Model, developed by Paul Hersey of the California Centre for Excellence, is based on the amount of direction (task behavior) and the amount of support (relationship behavior) the leader must provide, given the situation and the readiness of the follower or group. These two dimensions have been given various labels such as autocratic versus democratic, or employee-oriented versus production oriented.
The two dimensions can be defined as:
- Task/direction behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in one-way communication or instruction by explaining what each follower is to do, as well as when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished, and in monitoring work to make sure it is done correctly.
- Relationship/support behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in two-way communication so employees can question or ask for clarification, by providing support and encouragement to followers, and by empowering them to think on their own.
At one time it was thought supervisors and leaders used either/or one of these styles of leadership. Now we know there are actually four styles of leadership, either effective or ineffective, depending on the situation in which it is being applied.
Situational Leadership Model
The follower’s readiness is defined as the ability and willingness of a person to take responsibility for directing their own behavior. People tend to have varying degrees of readiness, depending on the specific task, function, or objective that a leader is attempting to accomplish through their efforts. Their level of readiness frequently determines their level of commitment to the job and the organization.
1) Unable and unwilling or insecure
2) Unable but willing or confident
3) Able but unwilling or insecure
4) Able and willing and confident
Using the Situational Model
In using Situational Leadership it is useful to keep in mind that there is no one best way to influence others. Rather, any leader behavior may be more or less effective depending on the readiness of the person you are attempting to influence.
The following model provides a quick reference to assist in:
- Diagnosing the level of readiness
- Selecting high probability leadership styles
- Communicating styles to effectively influence behavior
When leader behavior is used appropriately with its corresponding level of readiness, it is termed a High Probability Match. The following descriptors can be useful:
- Leader-made decision
- Leader-made decision with dialog and/or explanation
- Leader and follower-made decision or follower-made decision with encouragement from leader
- Follower-made decision
Has the necessary knowledge, experience, and skill
Has the necessary confidence, commitment and motivation.
The extent to which the leader engages in defining roles, telling what, how, when, where, and who, in:
- Goal setting
- Establishing time lines
The extent to which a leader engages in a two-way communication: listening, facilitating behaviors, and providing socio-emotional support. (This entails giving support, communicating, facilitating interactions, active listening, and providing feedback.)
Situational Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability
Self-awareness is one hallmark of a good leader. To be a good leader you need first to understand yourself, to have an understanding of your own leadership style and how it impacts on others. One way to discover yourself is to complete a type of self-assessment and the second is to ask colleagues for feedback on your leadership abilities.
The Leadership Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD) instrument was developed by the Center for Leadership Studies to assess the four leadership styles proposed by Hersey and Blanchard. The instrument also assesses the style range and adaptability of an individual.
The following exercise should be performed individually. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate your perception of your leadership style in terms of telling, selling, participating, or delegating, and to indicate whether the style is appropriate in various situations.
- Assume you are involved in each of twelve situations. Each situation has four alternative actions you might initiate.
- Read each item carefully. Think about what you would do in each circumstance. Then, circle the letter of the alternative action choice which you think would most closely describe your behavior in the situation presented.
- Circle only one choice.
Situation Alternative Actions
- Your employees are not responding lately to your friendly conversation and obvious concern for their welfare. Their performance is declining rapidly.
- a) Emphasize the use of uniform procedures and the necessity for task accomplishment
- b) Make yourself available for discussion but not push your involvement
- c) Talk with employees and then set goals
- d) Intentionally not intervene
- The observable performance of your group is increasing. You have been making sure that all members were aware of their responsibilities and expected standards of performance.
- a) Engage in friendly interaction, but continue to make sure that all members are aware of their responsibilities and expected standards of performance
- b) Take no definite action
- c) Do what you can to make the group feel important and involved
- d) Emphasize the importance of deadlines and tasks
- Members of your group are unable to solve a problem. You have normally left them alone. Group performance and interpersonal relations have been good.
- a) Work with the group and together engage in problem solving
- b) Let the group work it out
- c) Act quickly and firmly to correct and redirect
- d) Incorporate group recommendations, but you direct the change
- You are considering a change. Your employees have a fine record of accomplishment. They respect the need for change.
- a) Allow group involvement in developing the change, but not be too directive
- b) Announce changes and then implement with close supervision
- c) Allow the group to formulate its own direction
- d) Incorporate group recommendations, but you direct the change
- The performance of your group has been dropping during the last few months. Members have been unconcerned with meeting objectives.
Redefining roles and responsibilities has helped in the past. They have continually needed reminding to have their tasks done on time.
- a) Allow the group to formulate its own direction
- b) Incorporate group recommendations, but see that objectives are met
- c) Redefine roles and responsibilities and supervise carefully
- d) Allow group involvement in determining roles and responsibilities, but not be too directive
- You stepped into an efficiently run organization. The previous administrator tightly controlled the situation. You want to maintain a productive situation, but would like to begin humanizing the environment.
- a) Do what you can to make the group feel important and involved
- b) Emphasize the importance of deadlines and tasks
- c) Intentionally not intervene
- d) Get the group involved in decision making, but see that objectives are met
- You are considering changing to a structure that will be new to your group. Members of the group have made suggestions about needed changes. The group has been productive and demonstrated flexibility in its operations.
- a) Define the change and supervise carefully
- b) Participate with the group in developing the change, but allow members to organize the implementation
- c) Be willing to make changes as recommended, but maintain control of implementation
- d) Avoid confrontation, leave things alone
- Group performance and interpersonal and interpersonal relations are good. You feel somewhat insecure about your lack of direction of the group.
- a) Leave the group alone
- b) Discuss the situation with the group and then initiate necessary changes
- c) Take steps to direct followers toward working in a well-defined manner
- d) Be supportive in discussing the situation with the group, but not too directive
- Your boss has appointed you to head a task force that is far overdue in making requested recommendations for change. The group is not clear on its goals. Attendance at sessions has been poor. Their meetings have turned into social gatherings.
Potentially, they have the talent necessary to help.
- a) Let the group work out its problems.
- b) Incorporate group recommendations, but see that objectives are met
- c) Redefine goals and supervise carefully
- d) Allow group involvement in setting goals, but not push
- Your employees, usually able to take responsibility, are not responding to your recent redefining of standards.
- a) Allow group involvement in redefining standards, but not take control
- b) Redefine standards and supervise carefully
- c) Avoid confrontation by not applying pressure; leave the situation alone
- d) Incorporate group recommendations, but see that new standards are met
- You have been promoted to a new position. The previous supervisor was uninvolved in the affairs of the group. The group has adequately handled its tasks and direction.
Group interrelations are good. You would:
- a) Take steps to direct followers toward working in a well-defined manner
- b) Involve followers in decision making and reinforce good contributions
- c) Discuss past performance with the group and then examine the need for new practices
- d) Continue to leave the group alone
- Recent information indicates some internal difficulties among employees.
The group has a remarkable record of accomplishment. Members have effectively maintained long-range goals. They have worked in harmony for the past year. All are well qualified for the task.
- a) Try out your solution with followers and examine the need for new practices
- b) Allow group members to work it out themselves
- c) Act quickly and firmly to correct and redirect
- d) Participate in problem discussion while providing support for group
Your Leadership Style Profile and Your Leadership Style Adaptability The purpose of this exercise is to provide information on a number of different aspects of your leadership. When scoring the inventory, your results will provide information about your perception of your leadership style.
Your Leadership Style Profile
The first step will be to transfer the circled alternative actions for each of the twelve situations from the LEAD instrument to the corresponding numbered situations into the table on the next page. Then, total the number of circled actions for each of the four vertical columns and write their sums next to Totals.
Situation 1 2 3 4 Group Readiness in Situation
- 1 A C B D R1
- 2 D A C B R2
- 3 C A D B R3
- 4 B D A C R4
- 5 C B D A R1
- 6 B D A C R2
- 7 A C B D R3
- 8 C B D A R4
- 9 C B D A R1
- 10 B D A C R2
- 11 A C B D R3
- 12 C A D B R4
Your Leadership Style Profile
Transfer the total for each column in the table to corresponding quadrant in Figure 1 (below.) (In other words, write the column 1 total in the box in the S1 quadrant, the column 2 total in the box in the S2 quadrant, and so on.)
From this, three very important pieces of information come together to form your Leadership Style
Primary style is the style that you would tend to use most frequently. The quadrant in the model above which has the greatest number of responses indicated is your primary style.
Secondary or supporting style(s) include the quadrant(s) (other than your primary style quadrant) in which there are two or more responses. These styles tend to be your backup styles when you are not using your primary style.
- Share ideas & facilitate in decision making
- Turn over responsibility for decisions & implementation
- Provide specific instructions & closely supervise performance
- Explain your decisions & provide opportunity for clarification
- Leader Behaviors
- Task Behavior
- Low High
- Relationship Behavior
- Participating Selling
Style range refers to the total number of quadrants in the model above in which there are two or more responses. Style range provides a sense for how flexible you are in varying the types of behaviors you engage in when attempting to influence others. Three or more responses in a quadrant indicate a high degree of flexibility in the use of behaviors in that quadrant. Two responses in a quadrant indicate moderate flexibility. One response in a quadrant is not statistically significant, and therefore it is difficult to predict flexibility into that style.
Your Leadership Style Adaptability
To determine your Leadership Style Adaptability, circle the scores in Figure 2 below that correspond to the alternative action choices made for each situation in Figure 1. For example, if for Situation 1 alternative action choice “C” was chosen, circle “2” under column C below. Next, add the numbers in each vertical column and write their sums next to Subtotals. Finally, add the subtotals for each column to calculate Leadership Style Adaptability and write this number in the box provided.
Situations A B C D
- 1 3 1 2 0
- 2 3 0 2 1
- 3 2 1 0 3
- 4 2 0 3 1
- 5 0 2 3 1
- 6 1 2 0 3
- 7 0 3 1 2
- 8 3 1 0 2
- 9 0 2 3 1
- 10 2 0 1 3
- 11 0 3 1 2
- 12 1 3 0 2
Your Leadership Style Adaptability
Style range is important in gaining insight into your ability to influence others, and having a range of styles is helpful. The key variable now becomes when to use each style. Previously, your Leadership Style Profile indicated preferences and tendencies of leader behavior. Style adaptability is the degree to which you are able to vary your style appropriately to the readiness level of an employee in a specific situation.
In the previous scoring method, points are awarded for each alternative action selected in response to the twelve situations provided in the LEAD instrument. The number of points awarded is determined by how well the alternative action selected matches the situation. Thus, a “3” response indicates the best fit, while a “0” response indicates that an alternative action was selected that has a very low probability of success.
The use of a point system allows your Leadership Style Adaptability to be expressed as a score. The possible adaptability score ranges from 0 to 36. Expressing adaptability as a score allows some generalization to be made based on numerical benchmarks.
30 – 36 Scores in this range indicate a leader with a high degree of adaptability. The leader accurately diagnoses the ability and willingness of the follower for the situation and adjusts accordingly.
24 – 29 This range reflects a moderate degree of adaptability. Scores in this range usually indicate a pronounced primary leadership style with less flexibility into the secondary styles.
0 – 23 Adaptability scores less than 23 indicate a need for self-development to improve both the ability to diagnose task readiness and to use appropriate leader behaviors.
Additional Information about Leadership Profiles
Style Profile 1-3 (Participating – Telling)
People whose scores place the majority of their responses in styles 1 and 3 fall into what is called the “good guy-bad guy syndrome.” What Hersey found is that people who have a style profile 1-3, with little flexibility to styles 2 and 4, usually view their employees with either good guy or bad guy assumptions about human nature. They see some people as lazy, unreliable, and irresponsible.
They feel that the only way to manage these people is to coerce, reward or punish, and closely supervise them. They see other people as positive, creative, and self-motivated; the only thing they have to do with these people is to provide socio-emotional support. In fact, in interviewing managers with this profile, it has been found that they talk about individuals they supervise as good people or bad people, and use terms like, “with me,” or “against me.” Their employees, when interviewed, tend to agree. They see their managers as labeling people, and thus being very supportive (S3) with people they see in their camp, but closely supervising, controlling (S1), and even punishing people they see against them.
One of the interesting things that occurs with this style profile is that it often becomes a selffulfilling prophecy. A manager with this style takes people who are at moderate maturity levels (M2) and either moves them up to moderate-to-high (M3) or moves them down to low levels of maturity (M). Thus, this manager tends to be effective working with low levels of maturity or moderate to high levels.
A problem with this style is that the leaders who adopt it often are doing little to develop the potential of the people they don’t like; they keep them locked into immature states by always relying on high task/low relationship behavior with them. They lack the interim behaviors between style 1 and style 3 to operate effectively in the developmental cycle. At the same time, their style 3 (high relationship/low task behavior) with moderately mature people might keep these people psychologically dependent on them too long. These kinds of leaders do not seem to allow people to develop fully through delegation.
It is also interesting that people who work for leaders with this style profile claim that if there is any change in their leader’s style with them it usually occurs in a movement from style 3 to style
- In other words, it is very difficult if you are being treated in a style 1 fashion by these leaders ever to receive style 3 types of behavior from them. But it is not too difficult to move from receiving style 3 behaviors to receiving style 1 behaviors. All you have to do is make some mistakes and these leaders tend to respond with highly structured behavior.
Style Profile 1-4 (Telling – Delegating)
People whose scores fall mainly in style 1 and style 4 have some similarity to the “good guy-bad guy” profile of style 1-3 leaders. But rather than assessing people on whether they are good or bad in term of personal attachment to them, the sorting mechanism for this kind of leader often becomes competency. When interviewed, these managers suggest that if you are competent you will be left alone, but if you are incompetent they will ride you and closely supervise your activities. Their style is either telling or delegating.
A leader with this style is effective at crisis interventions. Therefore, this is the kind of style you might look for to make an intervention into an organization with severe problems where there are short-time restrictions to solve them. This kind of leader is quite capable of making disciplinary interventions, going in and turning around a situation, and hopefully moving people back to higher level of maturity. But again, much like the previous profile, this type of leader lacks the developmental skills to take people from low levels of maturity and develop them into higher level of maturity.
An interesting thing occurs when leaders with this type of profile are introduced into a group with a normal distribution of maturity. What tends to happen is that the leader treats people in such a way that they either progress in their maturity or they regress, so that now, rather than a normal distribution of maturity levels, followers are clustered at the high end (M4) or low end (M1) of the maturity continuum. Once again, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Style Profile 1-2 (Telling – Selling)
People whose score places the majority of their responses in styles 1 and 2 tend to be able to raise and lower their socio-emotional support or relationship behavior but often feel uncomfortable unless they are calling the shots; that is, when they are providing the structure and direction.
The style profile 1-2 tends to be effective with low to moderate levels of maturity. It is often an extremely effective style for people engaged in manufacturing and production where managers have real pressures to produce, as well as with leaders in crisis situations where time is an extremely scarce resource. But when the crisis or time pressure is over, leaders with this style are often not able to develop people to their fullest potential. This remains true until they learn to use styles 3 and 4 appropriately.
In the sample, Hersey found that this style profile tends to be characteristic of engineers who have become supervisors of other engineers but tend to be reluctant to give up their engineering; salespersons who have become sales managers and yet still love to sell themselves; and teachers who have become administrators but who still want to be directing the activities of children. These leaders often project in interviews that “no one can do things as well as I can,” and this often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Style Profile 2-3 (Selling – Participating)
People whose scores place the majority of their responses in styles 2 and 3 tend to do well working with people of average levels of maturity but find it difficult handling discipline problems and immature work groups, as well as delegating with competent people to maximize their development. This style tends to be the most frequently identified style in the North America and other countries with a high level of education and extensive industrial experience. Managers in some of the emerging cultures tend to have a more structured style profile (S1 and S2).
Styles 1 and 4 are the risky styles because if they are used inappropriately, they can result in a great deal of crisis. For instance, if someone is supervising a very low level of maturity and uses style 4, leaving them on their own, there is a high probability that the environment is going to deteriorate and serious problems will result. On the other hand, if you have an extremely high level of maturity among your followers and you are attempting to use style 1 interventions, you are likely to generate much resentment, anxiety, and resistance, which may lead to what Machiavelli refers to as attempts to undermine, overthrow, or get out from under the leader; that is, hatred rather than fear.
Although styles 1 and 4 are risky styles, if you are going to maximize your role as leader, you have to be willing to take the risk and use these styles when the situation is appropriate. One caution is that if you feel style 1 or style 4 is needed in a situation, you should be more careful in your diagnostic judgments before you make these kinds of interventions.
You need to learn to make style 1 interventions for two reasons. First, they are effective interventions when beginning the process of developing the task-relevant maturity of people with low maturity levels. Second, this style is often necessary in making disciplinary interventions. Style 4 is often necessary if you are going to allow people to reach self actualization by satisfying their need for achievement.
In many organizations there are at least two prerequisites for promotion. This first is that managers have to do an outstanding job in their present position. In other words, their output in terms of that organization has to be high. The second prerequisite is that they have to have a ready replacement, someone who is ready and able to take over their responsibilities. To have this kind of ready replacement, managers must have at least one of several key subordinates with whom they are able to use style 4 and delegate significant responsibilities. If this is not so, the probability of these managers having a ready replacement is very low.
In summary, the style profile 2-3 is an excellent style for working with moderately mature individuals, but if leaders with this profile are going to maximize their potential as leaders, they need to learn to use styles 1 and 4 when necessary.
Style Profile 2-4 (Selling – Delegating)
People whose scores place the majority of their responses in styles 2 and 4 usually have one basic style of S2 and a supporting style of S4. This style seems to be characteristic of managers who just do not feel secure unless they are providing much of the direction and developing a personal relationship with people in an environment characterized by two-way communication and socio-emotional support (high relationship behavior).
Only occasionally do these people find a person to whom they feel comfortable delegating. When they do delegate, their choice may not be able to handle the project. Thus, such a person may not be able to complete the task or may come to the manager for help because he or she is used to the leader providing direction and socio-emotional support. The reason that style profile 2-4 leaders tend not to be successful in delegating is that they generally move from style 2 to style 4 without moving through style 3. Let’s look at an example.
Suppose your supervisor usually directs and closely supervises (high task behavior) your activities, but you also have a good rapport with this supervisor, open communication, and receive socio-emotional support from these interactions (high relationship behavior). One day the supervisor puts a couple of projects on your desk and tells you that they must be completed in a couple of weeks. You don’t see the supervisor during that time. You would probably respond to that behavior from your manager as if it were a punishment rather than a reward.
You might respond by saying, “What’s he giving me all this work for?” and, “He must not care about me much anymore because I never see him now!” So rather than suddenly shifting from style S2 to S4, managers with this style have to learn to move from selling (S2) through participating (S3) and then to delegating (S4).
In the previous example, if this strategy were followed by your supervisor, he should provide you with some socio-emotional support; telling you that you have been doing a good job, that he has confidence in you, and that he feels that you will be able to take on some additional responsibility. Then he might give you a choice of several projects so that you could then participate in choosing which of the projects you would be interested in taking over. Here your supervisor would be moving from style 2 into style 3 (participation and supportive behavior).
Then he might say, “Look, I think you can run with this project on your own. If you get into some problems, give me a call.” Now, because your supervisor has moved from style 2 through the supportive relationship behaviors (S3) to delegation (S4), you would tend to see this behavior as a reward rather than a punishment.
Style Profile 3-4 (Participating – Delegating)
People whose scores place the majority of their responses in style profile 3-4 tend to be able to raise and lower their socio-emotional support or relationship behavior but often feel uncomfortable if they have to initiate structure or provide direction for people. Thus, while this style profile is appropriate for working with moderate to high levels of maturity, it tends to create problems with people who are becoming less mature and need a regressive intervention, or with inexperienced people who require more direction during the early phases of the developmental cycle.
Style profile 3-4 is a characteristic of certain types of individuals or groups. It tends to be representative of very effective top managers in organizational settings where they have a mature, competent staff that needs little direction from the top. It has also been found to be characteristic of managers who have been very deeply involved in sensitivity training, personal growth groups, or laboratory training. These managers sometimes become more interested in how people feel and the process of interpersonal relationships than what people do in terms of organizational goals.
This profile is also found among people who have studied or are practicing in the area of humanistic education. For example, teachers with this kind of profile tend to be comfortable in student-centered environments where the norm is not for teachers to direct, control, and closely supervise the learning activities of children. However, because many youngsters are not yet ready to assume direction of their own learning, if this style is universally applied it can lead to problems. In fact, some parents complain today that although youngsters seem to be much more willing to level, share, and be open about their feelings with adults (teachers in school and parents in the home), they often seem to lack the solid technical skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, which tend to require a more directive teacher behavior with an emphasis on the technical as well as the human skills.
- What does your Leadership Style look like now?
- What is the one change you would like to make to your current Leadership style?
- What are some specific activities/behaviors you can use when you are in each of the four styles, in order to be an effective leader?
- Telling, Establishing, or Directing
- Selling or Coaching
- Participating or Empowering
- What do you hope to be like as a leader a year from now?
- How will you get there? (List your action plan)