We started discussion situational leadership in last week’s post called Situational Leadership Pt. 1, this is a continuation of that post. Make sure you go back to Part 1 of situational leadership to get an overview of the framework as well as a definition of some of the terms in this post.
Once an employee gets through the level of S2 and moves into S3, they’re highly competent at their job, but their commitment level varies by the day. Most of your time is now spent motivating the employee. You’re well into the democratic leadership part of the scale here. There’s a healthy back and forth in decision making, and the employee has the competence to make decisions on their own.
This is where you want to get with all your employees. They’re highly competent and motivated. They’re off and running, and you’re able to delegate your own tasks to them with little to no oversight. You’re more on the laissez-faire side of the scale. This person just goes out and gets it done. Don’t misunderstand me, though. Your people need you to be a constant in their lives. This does not give you an excuse to not spend time with your best people. As a leader, you must give the most attention to your best people so they can continue to grow and make an impact in their roles.
Each S-level requires a different level of leadership, D1 through D4. An S1 needs a D1 leader, who gives clear direction with a lot of oversight and no flexibility for the employee. Once the employee is an S2, D1 leadership no longer works. The S2 needs coaching, not directing, so D2 leaders can consider themselves coaches.
However, D2 leadership won’t work with an S3 employee, so as your employee grows, you need to grow. A D3 leader is someone who supports their followers; coaching and directing won’t work. What works is giving the person a long leash, but still remaining involved.
Lastly, an S4 employee doesn’t need a director, coach, or supporter. They need a delegator: someone who will give them a project and let them be free to make decisions but still accountable to you. If you try to lead at a mismatched level, you will end up frustrating the person you’re trying to lead. So don’t lead at a D4 for an S1 employee, and don’t lead at a D1 for an S4 employee. They will likely leave.
There’s more to situational leadership than I’ve mentioned here, but how can you apply the principles here in your organization? Is there anyone you’re leading improperly? Where can you increase your leadership?
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