Effective leadership in the complex environment we face requires the use of a variety of leadership styles and the ability to know when a situation calls for a shift in or a different leadership approach.

Leadership versatility allows leaders to be nimble, assessing the situation and shifting to a leadership style that will generate the desired results. At The Leader’s Evolution, our approach builds leaders that understand the different styles and how to effectively pivot across them. We develop leaders that hone the skills necessary to succeed, no matter which style is being used.

Versatility – Learning the Leadership Styles

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have forced leaders and their teams to shift rapidly to face new challenges, many of which they have never faced before. The most effective leaders learn from the new environment rapidly, can adapt quickly, and move confidently to the leadership style for the situation. In these tumultuous and changing times, leaders need to adapt daily, often hour-by-hour, situation by situation.

So what types of leadership styles exist? Here are a few examples:

  • Directive: This style has the leader providing direct and clear instructions about what they want people to do. It’s an effective style in situations where there is an urgent task to be completed under difficult circumstances. It’s also effective in times of true crisis, but be wary of over-using this style as it can wear people out if used for too long.
  • Coaching: This style is collaborative and nurturing, where leaders work with employees to guide them through a process or task. This two-way engagement involves the leader asking guiding questions that help employees learn and treating “mistakes” as learning opportunities.
  • Visionary: This style is viewed as highly strategic, with the leader looking to the future, seeing what is possible, and creating a vision that inspires others. Their language and excitement rally people around an idea, but these leaders frequently call on others to execute on the vision.
  • Executing: This style has the leader producing actions and results, a pacesetter who can take ideas and goals and drive towards accomplishing the tasks necessary to achieve success.

Learning Leadership Versatility

The best leaders learn to flex across leadership styles, using the style that best fits the individual, team or situation. However, it’s a skill that needs to be learned and developed over time.

The key is understanding the situation, adapting to it and learning how to shift and apply the appropriate leadership style. That takes intentional learning, practice and experience. Research strongly supports that people are more engaged by and follow leaders who can master this skill effectively. Everyone wants to work with the leaders that do it well!

As a leader looking to master versatility, it’s crucial to have a coach who can observe and listen to you and how you approach different scenarios, and guide you to develop the confidence and “leadership muscles” to flex across different leadership styles.

Like many things we seek to improve, practicing the skill builds competence. The coaching relationship provides a learning environment to build self-awareness and test new approaches.

Coaching for Leadership Versatility

The leadership coaching model is a powerful way to learn the skills that lead to versatility. The coaching process takes leaders through several phases to learn versatility, including:

  • Learning: Leaders learn and understand the most common styles.
  • Matching: While learning the styles, leaders build knowledge of the current situations they face where each style is most effective.
  • Awareness: Leaders learn their strongest styles and build awareness of how often they’re using their dominant styles, being careful not to overuse or misuse certain ones.
  • Practice: Coaching is about practice and discovery. Leaders practice new skills, trying out new leadership styles and then getting rapid feedback on what worked, what did not and why. This practice allows leaders to improve and try again. This continual cycle has leaders gain the experience and confidence that allows them to pivot and become great situational leaders.

Key Takeaways

  • Leadership versatility allows leaders to flex comfortably across leadership styles as the situation dictates and apply the style that will lead to success and positive results.
  • Understanding the different leadership styles and where to apply them is a foundational step in the journey.
  • Leaders improve by practicing when and how to use various leadership styles to be fully versatile and highly effective.

Situational leadership, which allows leaders to demonstrate their versatility, has never been more critical. To learn more about how to strengthen your leadership skills, contact us today.