If we are to first address the leadership theories and leadership styles these include the trait approach to leadership, the behavioural approach, the contingency or situational school and dispersed leadership. If I am to use these to reflect on my own personal leadership style and to address my key responsibilities in my leadership role I would resonate with the contingency or situational school as explored by Hersey and Blanchard (1970s) and Adair.
Hersey and Blanchard (1970s)
This model suggests that leaders do change their leadership style, they do so contingently and relative to the task maturity and task readiness. By ‘task maturity and task readiness’ they imply how able and willing of confident followers are to perform required tasks. Hersey and Blanchard define four leadership styles:
Telling/Directing (S1) – Leaders tell their people what to do and how to do it.
Selling/Coaching (S2) – Leaders provide information and direction, but there’s more communication with followers. Leaders “sell” their message to get people on board.
Participating/Consulting (S3) – Leaders focus more on the relationship and less on direction. The leader works with the team, and shares decision-making responsibilities.
Delegating (S4) – Leaders pass most of the responsibility onto the follower or group. The leaders still monitor progress, but they’re less involved in decisions.
Looking at the above styles you will note that styles S1 and S2 are focused on getting the task done, whereas styles S3 and S4 are more concerned with developing team members’ abilities to work independently. They also explore the concept of maturity Levels and in particular knowing when to use each style being largely dependent on the maturity of the person or group you’re leading. They break maturity down into four different levels:
M1 – People at this level of maturity are at the bottom level of the scale. They lack the knowledge, skills, or confidence to work on their own, and they often need to be pushed to take the task on.
M2 – at this level, followers might be willing to work on the task, but they still don’t have the skills to complete it successfully.
M3 – Here, followers are ready and willing to help with the task. They have more skills than the M2 group, but they’re still not confident in their abilities.
M4 – These followers are able to work on their own. They have high confidence and strong skills, and they’re committed to the task.
According to John Adair, there are three elements to all leadership situations. They are:
The achievement of a goal or task – This may be the completion of a very practical activity or it may be a less tangible goal. We know that effective groups have clear goals shared by all members. Often the task is what brings the group together in the first place.
The group of people performing the task – It is likely that the task will only be achieved if all members of the group work together to the common good. Therefore, the group itself has to be understood as an entity in its own right.
Each individual member of the group involved in the task – While the group will take on a life of its own, individuals do not lose their own identity. Their needs as people must continue to be met if their allegiance to the group, and their motivation to achieve the task, is to be sustained.
Action-Centred Leadership, is centred on the actions of the leader. The leader has to balance the needs from each of the three elements. An effective leader is the one who keeps all three in balance; that is who attends to all three at the same time. If any one element is ignored, the others are unlikely to succeed. Adair model is similar to the Hersey and Blanchard model, they both explore in detail the emphasis on developing individuals and the team in order to focus on the task in hand.
Looking towards my own leadership I believe this is driven prominently by my personality. Exploring Hersey and Blanchard’s model I have periods within any given task where I have followed their model of leadership. In 2014 my area manager asked me to step in to support a team which was struggling due to an under performing manager which had gone unnoticed for years, this was until an external audit in which the service failed to achieve. The team of six staff had been moulded by the previous manager in to delivering poor quality of care by following bad practices. Those that had previously tried to challenge this bad practice hadn’t remained long within the time, or in fact the organisation. The direct knock on effect was a high turnover of staff and quality of care wasn’t believed in or driven by the team as you would expect. If we look at classifying the team at this stage they would have the maturity level M1 in the Hersey and Blanchard model. As I begun to manage the team I would find they initially lacked the skills and knowledge to take on any tasks or decisions, even though they knew the individual they had been supporting for years better than me. As part of my role as the teams leader and manager I unknowingly assessed the maturity of my team, noting the direction and support each team member required. I ensured I made myself readily available for two reasons, to ensure they knew I was there for questions and support and also to offer hands on direction to the individuals approaches to tasks and hands on care where required. As I begun to question one prominent member of the team went off sick. I worked with the team to build up their knowledge base and skills, in turn the team gained confidence in compliments and seeing the improvements in the service deliver. At this stage the team had moved to Hersey and Blanchard’s maturity level M2, developing to M3 the team were willing to work with me and recognised the gaps in their knowledge and also areas in which were not up to standard. Members of the team were empowered to make decisions and empowered to discuss different way of working with each other. The service delivery was impacted as the staff team physically saw the improvements in the individual we were supporting and the direct reduction in their behaviours. Turnover reduced, complaints reduced, team morale soared, the team became a team people wished to move in to rather than move away from. In order to achieve this I invested a lot of time and resources in to the team, however the results were clearly visible -when being re audited achieving a good status.
Although I unknowingly used Hersey and Blanchard’s model it is now that I can reflect on the success of their model. Specifically in terms of my own leadership both in this given situation and through my current role.
1.2 Use theories of emotional intelligence to review the effect of emotions on own and others’ performance
By emotional intelligence we mean the ability to personally recognise your emotions, have an appreciation of what they are telling you and in turn realise how your emotions can affect those around you. It also encompasses your personal perception of others and understanding how others feel, in turn by understanding this you can then manage your relationship with them more effectively.
Emotional intelligence explores that successful leadership is about being effective in three ways: that is leading self, leading others, and leading the organisation (Mindtools.com,2018)
Putting this in a leadership context the emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman explores that there are five emotional intelligence competencies: Motivation, Self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills and empathy. Goleman believes these competencies are critical to being a successful leader, and are demonstrated through leadership behaviours.
Research suggests there are certain personality traits that make it a lot more likely that any individual will grow to a leadership position within their organisation. One such piece of research is a 2002 review of studies by the psychologist Timothy A. Judge and colleagues. Judge looked at what are commonly known as “Big Five” personality traits — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism — among different types of leaders. Among his findings: Extroversion is the strongest predictor of leadership and agreeableness is the weakest. From Judges research we can gain an overview
We’re simply giving an overview of the personal qualities that typically show up in leaders.
Here’s what Judge’s research found:
Extroversion was the strongest predictor of leadership emergence — who becomes a leader — and leadership effectiveness — who’s successful in a leadership position. But it was a better predictor of emergence than effectiveness.
What’s more, when the study authors deconstructed extroversion into distinct parts, they found that dominance and sociability better predicted leadership than extroversion as a whole. This makes sense, the study authors write, “as both sociable and dominant people are more likely to assert themselves in group situations.”
Conscientiousness, or a person’s tendency to be organized and hard-working, was the second strongest predictor of leadership.
Again, conscientiousness was more closely linked to leader emergence than to leadership effectiveness. The authors write: “The organizing activities of conscientious individuals (e.g. note taking, facilitating processes) may allow such individuals to quickly emerge as leaders.
From personal feedback I am described as someone who has the complete trust of her staff, listens to her team, is easy to talk to, and always makes careful, informed decisions. I feel this reflection of myself has come with work and life experiences through my career.
2 Be able to evaluate own ability to lead others
2.1 Review own ability to set direction and communicate this to others
2.2 Review own ability to motivate, delegate and empower others
2.3 Produce a personal development plan to improve own ability to lead