This is a guest post from John Baldoni. John is an internationally recognized leadership consultant, coach, author and speaker. This excerpt is adapted from his newest book, The Leader’s Pocket Guide.
PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP DEPENDS UPON RELEVANCY and connection. Leaders can consider three factors: context, circumstance, and consequence.
Leaders need to be flexible and apply a leadership style that fits the situation, as posited by author and organizational theorist Paul Hersey. Here are some guidelines:
1. Figure out the context. Executives need to know the backstory, that is, what happened before they arrived on the scene. Sometimes it requires digging and asking lots of questions. For leaders of long tenure, knowing the context is second nature. They live it every day. Knowledge of the situation and its context sets the stage for what the leader does next.
2. Circumstance-the current situation-determines your degree of involvement. Crisis calls for bold actions. For example, if a new marketing program fails to generate sufficient awareness, the chief marketing officer should handle the situation. If multiple marketing initiatives fail, the CEO needs to find a solution quickly. He or she should take charge and find a new senior marketing executive.
3. Consequence is what happens when a leader acts. With apologies to Sir Isaac Newton, not every leadership action has an equal and opposite reaction. Very often a CEO decision is designed to turn the enterprise around or keep it on course; a frontline manager’s decisions are the equivalent of trimming the sails. A CEO who makes too many decisions not only creates lots of activity, specifically churn; he also determines the authority of other senior leaders.
Considering context, circumstance, and consequence is a good way to determine how involved to be and what style to employ.