Situational Leadership: How to Get People to Get Things Done

You hired someone to do a job, and then expect to be able to delegate duties and see them come to completion without input from you. But you find yourself frustrated by having to check in with them over and over. Trust me, I’ve been there! Find out how situational leadership could be the answer to your problems in this episode of Fordify.

This is an area that I’ve had to work on and I’m continuing to work on at my company here at Prime Concepts. Now before we get too deep into this topic let me share a quick little story with you.

I was at a mastermind a few years ago and it’s a situation where you go around the room and each person shares one of their biggest challenges. Then the group works together to help answer it. It gets around me, so I shared with my mastermind partners. I said, “Look, the biggest problem I have is my people. Motivating them, training them, onboarding them, getting them to do what I want them to do. Getting them to get shit done. And this one gentleman said, “Hey, I’ve got your answer. He says, “First of all, have you ever taught a child how to ride a bike? I said, “Sure my son Logan, I taught him how to ride a bike. He said what did you do? I said well I gave him a helmet

I said, “Look, the biggest problem I have is my people. Motivating them, training them, onboarding them, getting them to do what I want them to do. Getting them to get shit done.”

And this one gentleman said, “Hey, I’ve got your answer. He says, “First of all, have you ever taught a child how to ride a bike? I said, “Sure my son Logan, I taught him how to ride a bike. He said what did you do? I said well I gave him a helmet

I said, “Sure my son Logan, I taught him how to ride a bike. He said what did you do? I said well I gave him a helmet

He said, “What did you do?”

I said, “Well, I gave him a helmet and a bicycle and I held the back of his bike and if he fell over I picked him up and coached him and guided him.”

And he said, “Yeah that’s how you teach somebody how to do something right? You prepare them, you guide them, and you coach. But Ford, you know what you do? You find the biggest, steepest hill you can find. You put your employees on a bike with no brakes and then for good measure you kick the back of the seat and you push them down the hill at 90 miles an hour. Inevitably they’re gonna crash and when they crash you go to the bottom and you b*@#& slap them for falling off the bike.” He said, “You can’t do that with your employees. You have to apply different situational leadership tactics.”

And I said, “Guys, what is situational leadership?”

So let’s take a look at what Google says situational leadership is. “Situational leadership refers to when the leader or manager of an organization must adjust his style to fit the development level of the followers he’s trying to influence.”

Now let me translate that. You have to look at the situation and the development level of the particular employee and adapt your style accordingly.

So what are the styles?

  1. directing
  2. coaching
  3. supporting
  4. empowering

Now in the directing quadrant situation you have to think about the environment and the tasks for somebody that might have low competence but high commitment in the situation and that means you just need to give them more training or guidance. Show them what success looks like, and you have to spend more time directing their particular behavior.

Then you hopefully are gonna be able to move into coaching. Where you’ll need less structure. They should be able to do some things on their own, but you need to check in with them periodically to make sure things are on track.

Now moving from coaching to supporting. It’s very close, a very similar situation but it’s where they need more praise and encouragement and for you just to be there so that if they do need help they can come to you.

Now from supporting to empowering. That’s where you can delegate. That’s for people that have high competency in an area. They’re also intrinsically motivated. They have the skills talents and abilities and they will take the personal accountability to ensure success.

This is not about putting people in particular boxes. It’s about being adaptive and flexible to the situation to where that employee, that staff person is with that particular obligation.

So for example, let’s say I have a person that works me and we’ll call them Bob. On some things, Bob may need a lot of directing. On other different types of duties and responsibilities, I might be able to delegate. So it’s not about the person it’s about understanding the situation and then applying the right style to that particular situation.

So let’s say you’re hiring somebody in sales and maybe they’re an expert at selling cars or insurance or real estate or retail sales but they come to work for your business and they’ve never sold your particular part services before. Well, obviously, you’re gonna start them out in the directive quadrant. You’re gonna have to give them direct supervision to make sure that they understand your products and services. Then hopefully you’re gonna be able to migrate them into the coaching role, where they understanding products and services but now you’re coaching them for success. You’re having regular meetings with them and you’re coaching them on how many calls they’re making and how many conversions they’re getting and you have some type of metrics to measure them about. Then hopefully from there, you’re moving them into supporting, where you can be a little more hands off. You might only meet with them once a week or maybe once every two weeks because they already know what to do. They understand your products and services, they know what success looks like. So then you wanna move from supporting to empowering, where you’re pretty much completely hands off. You can empower them and delegate them to make their own sales calls and to set their own hours.

So that’s it. You go from directing to coaching to supporting to empowerment and again it’s not about the people. Remember it’s about the particular situation and where they are and which situation you have to apply the different leadership style to. Most entrepreneurs aren’t using situational leadership just like I didn’t. They’re hiring people, empowering them, they’re delegating and then when it doesn’t work, they’re letting them go. But the problem is they’re setting their employees up for failure because they’re not actually directing them and coaching them and supporting them. They’re just going straight to delegation.

Now here’s another important note. Some of you while you’re looking at the different quadrants might actually have to do the opposite you might have someone that actually is intrinsically motivated, has the skills talents and abilities and the motivation and you need to get out of their own way and let them perform.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Learn situational leadership, don’t put people in boxes. Understand that to be really effective as a leader you have to apply these different strategies along the path and that you might have one person who you can delegate something to but that same person may also need direct support.

Author: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers. Find out more about Ford

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