Situational Leadership

All of us have a preferred leadership style, based on our individual personality, philosophy, and what we find works. We fall in different places on the scale of consultation and direction.

The concept of situational leadership is that we should tailor our approach to the particular situation that we face. Part of this is who we manage. “Knowledge workers” such as lawyers are trained to exercise their own judgment and build their professional expertise. They do not take well to being told what to do. Soldiers, on the other hand, are trained to obey orders.

Yet soldiers also need to be able to show initiative and make their own decisions (think peacekeeping or guerilla war). And lawyers sometimes need to do what they are told.

An example of circumstances where one particular approach is necessary, think of a firm in financial crisis. This is probably not a time when everyone can exercise their own particular judgment, not least because there may not be enough time to gather necessary information. Sometimes events require a “ready, fire, aim” approach, and the Boss need to take a decision and ensure that everyone else makes it work.

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