Lead in Any Situation

Lead in Any Situation

, Lead in Any Situation

Currently, I’m working on the Dynamic Leadership Pathway Education Program. This project focuses on leadership and recognizing the need to adapt our style based on the situation and the people we lead. The purpose of this project is to apply the skills needed to successfully lead in a volunteer or other organization. This project’s description is: for at least six months, take on a leadership role in Toastmasters (at any level), within another volunteer organization, or in your career. While serving in your role, ask your peers to complete a 360° evaluation. The project asks to present an 8- to 10-minute speech about your experience as a leader. Your speech may be humorous, informational, or any type that appeals to you. The speech is not a report on the content of this project, but a reflection of your experience and/or the impact of the 360° evaluation.

I decided to combine the 360° evaluation and the two-day-workshop on Situational Leadership hosted by my company to write this speech. Here’s the slide deck for reference. 

Here’s my script: 

“Leadership cannot just go along to get along – leadership has impact and purpose.” said by the behavior scientist and entrepreneur, Paul Hersey. 

So what is the best leadership style? I often ask. 

I was fortunate to take a two-day-workshop on situational leadership and then went through the 360-degree evaluation of my leadership style in this Toastmasters Pathway. Initially, I thought I knew the answer to that question because my leading trait from the Toastmasters survey was coaching. Then I quickly learned that it’s not that simple. We need to be the right leader at the right time. 

, Lead in Any Situation

Let’s first start with some definitions to level set. 

  • Leadership is any attempt to influence the behavior of another person or group – up, down, or across your organization. 
  • A leader is someone who, regardless of position, influences others.
  • Leadership style is the pattern of behavior of the leader as perceived by the person or group being influenced.
  • Effective leadership is adapting a leadership style to meet the performance needed of those being influenced. 
, Lead in Any Situation

Here are two types of behavior for a leader. A task oriented leader is where the leader engages in defining roles, structuring activity and providing the what, where, when, how and, if more than one person is involved, who is to do what for a particular task. 

A relationship oriented leader is the leader who engages in two-way communication, facilitates interaction and actively listens. 

, Lead in Any Situation

Depending on the nature of the behavior, we end up having the four types of leaders – S1 to S4.

  • S1 – I talk, I decide. High task and low relationship 
  • S2 – we talk, I decide. High task and high relationship 
  • S3 – We talk, you decide. High relationship and low task 
  • S4 – You decide, I trust you. Low relationship and low task 
, Lead in Any Situation

Or if we want to just use one word to describe that type of leaders:

  • S1 – telling 
  • S2 – selling 
  • S3 – participating 
  • S4 – delegating 

You now may be thinking what if I’m a little bit of all of them? Am I still a good leader? That’s a good question. That depends on the followers.  Remember the definition? Effective leadership is adapting a leadership style to meet the performance needed of those being influenced.  

, Lead in Any Situation

Before we answer that question, let’s first talk about the followers. This workshop further broke down followers into two types of readiness levels. Are they able and willing? 

Ability means having the knowledge, experience, and skill that an individual or group demonstrates in a particular task or activity. 

Willingness is the confidence, commitment, and motivation to accomplish a specific task or activity that an individual or group demonstrates. 

, Lead in Any Situation

And we often get high to low performance readiness types of followers: 

  • R4 – able and confident and willing | Examples – I know how to cook well and am willing to cook tonight. 
  • R3 – able but insecure or unwilling | Example – I can take out the trash but I don’t want to because I’m watching TV.
  • R2 – unable but confident or willing | Example – YAY! Let’s put on that banquet! It’s gonna be so much fun. Uhh, but I’ve even done one before. 
  • R1 – unable and insecure or unwilling | Example – not sure about the banquet. I don’t know how to do it, and it just seems like a waste of time. 
, Lead in Any Situation

Now this is where it gets interesting – when you put the leaders and followers in the room together.  Image the headache you may have if a S4 boss is paired with a R1 employee for the banquet situation. 

  • R1 follower said, “Not sure about the banquet. I don’t know how to do it, and it just seems like a waste of time.”
  • If you have a S4 leader, who says, “I’m sure it’s gonna be great. I trust that you will make the right decision. See you at the banquet tomorrow night!” 

We probably aren’t gonna see a successful banquet with that pair. 

, Lead in Any Situation

From the workshop, I learned that it’s important to draw the line in the middle here. 

  • Left side: If you have a follower that is able to do it, you can use S3 and S4 type of leadership.  
  • Right side: If you have a follower that is not able to do it, you can use S1 and S2 type of leadership. 

Let’s go back to that example: 

  • R1 follower said, “Not sure about the banquet. I don’t know how to do it, and it just seems like a waste of time.” 
  • Let’s be a S1 type of leader and say something like, “Hey, don’t worry. Let’s do this together. Let’s first get a to-do list on what needs to be down by when, who to invite, what to buy, etc. We will get this done in no time.” 

Now we can see as a potential great banquet.  

, Lead in Any Situation

During that workshop, I was asked to send out an anonymous survey to my peers about my leadership styles. The results came back to be quite encouraging. At least I have the same opinion as my peers that my primary leadership style is S3 – participating (We talk, You decide). The secondary leadership style has a bit of difference. I thought I was a bit more telling, but it doesn’t seem like my colleagues thought that.  That was very reassuring, because I have been working with a group of very capable and willing employees thus far. 

Let’s use starting Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters as an example. I’m the President and Abhijeet, whom many of you guys know, is the VP of Education. In this case, Abhijeet is an extremely capable and willing officer, and my leadership style is extremely hands-off. Let’s talk about the mission and goals. Then you (Abhijeet) can decide on what needs to be done with scheduling our members’ speeches, reaching the club goals, and mentoring partnerships.  

When I was training some of the other officers, I needed to use a more selling and telling approach. Since Women L.E.A.D. is not a corporate club, marketing is extremely important to get additional new members. Every time after publishing a blog post to promote for future events, we need to promote the blog post or people don’t read it and that impacts our meetings’ attendance. A few officers aren’t from the tech industry, so I put together training materials to train the new officers step-by-step on how to post impactful social posts that will generate more engagement and traction. Then that could potentially result in more members coming to the club. That approach has also resulted in more capable and willing officers.  

This experience taught me that it’s great that coaching is one of my top traits as a leader, but it’s even more important to be the right leader at the right time. 

Come to our next meeting on April 14th, 7-8:15pm PDT. Theme: Effective Women Leaders. Register here

, Lead in Any Situation
  • Written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters 

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