Effective leaders are skillful at helping the groups they lead be successful as the group goes through various stages of development. There is no leadership style that is consistently effective. Situational factors, including follower characteristics, must be taken into consideration in the selection of an effective leadership style. The key situational factors that determine leadership effectiveness include stage of group development, task structure, position power, leader – member relations, the work group, employee characteristics, organizational culture and national culture.
You can choose an effective leadership style if you use the following six suggestions:
- Determine the stage in which your group or team is operating: forming, storming, norming or performing
This is necessary because each team stage involves specific and different issues and behaviors, it’s important to know in which stage your team is. Forming is the first stage of group development, during which people join a group and then help define a group’s purpose, structure, and leadership. Storming is the second stage, characterized by intra-group conflict. Norming is the third stage, characterized by close relationships and cohesiveness. Performing is the fourth stage, when the group is fully functional.
- If your team is in the forming stage, there are certain leader behaviors you want to exhibit
These behaviors include making certain that all team members are introduced to one another, answering member questions, working to establish a foundation of trust and openness, modeling the behaviors you expect from the team members, and clarifying the team’s goals, procedures, and expectations.
- If you team is in the storming stage, there are certain leader behaviors you want to exhibit
These behaviors include identifying sources of conflict and adopting a mediator role, encouraging a win-win philosophy, restating the team’s vision and its core values and goals, encouraging an analysis of teams processes in order to identify ways to improve, enhancing team cohesion and commitment, and providing recognition to individual team members as well as the team.
- If your team is in the norming stage, there are certain leader behaviors you want to exhibit
These include clarifying the team’s goals and expectations, providing performance feedback to individual team members and the team, encouraging the team to articulate a vision for the future, and finding ways to publicly and openly communicate the team’s vision.
- If you team is in the performing stage, there are certain leader behaviors you want to exhibit
These behaviors include providing regular and ongoing performance feedback, fostering innovation and innovative behavior, encouraging the team to capitalize on its strengths, celebrating achievements (large and small), and providing the team whatever support it needs to continue doing its work.
- Monitor the group for changes in behavior and adjust you leadership style accordingly
Because a group is not a static entity, it will go through up periods and down periods. You should adjust your leadership style to the needs of the situation. If the group appears to need more direction from you, provide it. If it appears to be functioning at a high level on its own, provide whatever support is necessary to keep it functioning at that level.