How to choose your leadership style

Most people naturally prefer one leadership style, though in fact there are many. You could choose anything from ‘command and control’ through to full delegation:

Telling Selling Supporting Delegating

Telling is traditional ‘command and control’. You tell people what to do and monitor their work closely. Then you tell them what to do next.

In Selling, you explain the whole task and persuade the person of the need to do it, before giving them the jobs they need to do. ‘Ownership’ of the job still remains with you.

In Supporting people, you include them in ownership of the job and invite their participation in designing and planning solutions.

When Delegating, you give away the whole job to someone, only retaining ultimate accountability for its completion.

How do you choose which style to use?

Your decision depends on two factors:

The situation

The more urgent, dangerous or critical the situation, the more you should veer towards the ‘command and control’ end of the continuum. If the house is on fire, don’t try to engage everyone’s inspired motivation and commitment: bark orders!

As a leader in these situations you are expected to take control. Provide clear direction and, if necessary, instructions, to get the job done.

The ‘maturity’ of your ‘follower’

We don’t mean here their age, length of service, level of qualification, or anything else to do with them as an individual. What we mean is simply their willingness and their ability to carry out the specific task at hand.

If a person is unwilling, they are resistant to doing the task for whatever reason, and if they are unable to do the task, they lack the necessary skill set. The more unable and unwilling they are, the more your style should move to the left-hand ‘command and control’ end of the continuum.

This gives you a guide as to how to match your leadership style to the ‘maturity’ of your ‘follower’ – start where they are…

What’s your leadership style?

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