As the name suggests, versatile leadership is based on an approach that suggests that each circumstance will require a different solution.
Let's take the example of a team comprising four individuals. They are essentially all doing the same job, therefore the autocrat would design a process and a set of rules and order the team to perform in line with these rules. The democrat on the other hand might try to seek consensus across all four individuals before agreeing on a policy. Both strategies are likely to prove problematic at some point.
In our imaginary scenario, one of the team is a brand new recruit. Surely this person will need to be told what to do, watched carefully and supported, as the way the culture and the way the team operates are absorbed. One of the team is established, knows the job inside out and acts very responsibly. Clearly a strategy of micro management with this individual is likely to lead to resentment and frustration. The leader should be able to respond to both situations. Somewhere in between lies another team member, no longer new but perhaps not ready for delegation. The circumstances here perhaps require the leader to assume the role of coach. The individual might be challenged to begin to think about the approach they might take and be asked to respond and input their thoughts at a session organised by the leader. What we have then is a number of "leadership skill zones" in which people can be located.
Necessary for newer employees and those individuals who, regardless of time spent, prefer a directional approach.
Arguably the time when the most learning and development takes place. Here the leader or coach will question the individual on aspects of the job that need to be developed. The coaching approach does not dictate. Instead, it challenges people to begin the process of thinking for themselves and formulating their own solutions.
Appropriate for people who no longer need formal coaching sessions (at least for the particular skill they have mastered) but still require the ability to discuss their approach prior to executing it. This becomes more of a double check, as at this point their approach is likely to be correct.
Applies to those people in the organisation who have proved they are capable of having tasks and responsibilities delegated to them. Like respect, delegation should be earned and aspired to, rather than applied liberally and in equal measures to everyone.
Let us assume then that an individual clearly in the delegation skill zone is ready for promotion into a new role. Many leaders continue to delegate to them as if they were in their old roles. Surely with their new responsibilities, they should spend some time being directed, then coached, supported and finally delegated to?
Even this can be a little simplistic as many roles involve a portfolio of responsibilities and skills, some of which the individual might be accomplished at, others that they are not. Thus leadership might need to be flexible in addressing the development of this portfolio of skills.
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