Understanding personal leadership style is important. However, regardless of preferred leadership style and dominant personality traits, an effective leader knows that they must adapt their leadership style and strategies to meet the needs of their team. A team’s capacity, drive, and culture can determine what type of leadership style is needed from their leader to produce the results needed for success.
Two leadership strategies that a leader may employ are push and pull strategies. These strategies are polar opposites of one another, but each can be very useful if applied in the right context. However, using either of these at the wrong time can frustrate employees or stymie growth and productivity.
Envision a push leadership strategy as a leader positioned behind their team, serving as a springboard that pushes them toward their goal. In this situation, team members have the knowledge and tools to be successful. These team members need motivation and support from their leader and a strong vision. Essentially, the leader acts as a mother bird that pushes the baby birds from the nest, knowing that they can fly. When a leader utilizes the push strategy, they give their team members latitude to express creativity, develop solutions, and find strategic ways to accomplish the vision. This strategy relies on a strong, effectively communicated vision, trust, support, and motivation.
A pull leadership strategy occurs when a leader positions themselves in front of their team and pulls them along. The leader has to pave the way and establish the path for the team to follow. A pull leadership strategy is usually necessary if the vision and goals are unclear, the team or organization is implementing an entirely new process, or the team members do not have the knowledge and skills to be successful independently. A pull leadership strategy should only be temporary! As the leader pulls the team, they should refine the vision, establish processes and systems, equip their team, and cultivate a culture that will promote autonomy in the future. The goal of implementing the pull leadership strategy is to create an environment that will allow transitioning to the push strategy.
If a leader finds themselves constantly feeling the need to implement pull leadership, they should ask themselves the following questions:
An effective leader analyzes situations and can adapt their leadership style and strategies to those situations. If you would like support with situational leadership strategies, schedule a coaching call today!
What is not addressed will continue.
I have heard many leaders at different leadership levels in different organizations complain. Behind closed doors, leaders who are dissatisfied with the performance of their team spend a lot of time complaining and gossiping about people in the organization. The problem is that these types of leaders spend more time complaining about the problem than searching for a solution. They return to their workplace hoping that something may be different, but change is not magical; change is the result of deliberately identifying a problem and addressing it with a solution-oriented mindset and an action plan. Problems that are not addressed will continue.
People do not change things they do not see as a problem.
Leaders are often in their position because they are visionaries. They are big picture people. It may even be hard for them to accept that many on their team do not have that vision. Team members may not see the ripple affect of their behavior and performance on the rest of the team, the rest of the organization, or the people that the organization serves. As a result, leaders have the responsibility to address problems that they identify because the employees who are committing the offenses may not be aware that their behavior or performance is not acceptable. An employee who is a drain to the company culture probably does not believe that about themselves. A person will not work to fix something that they have never seen as broken. It is the leader’s responsibility to call attention to the behaviors that do not meet their standards of practice.
Why do we avoid critical conversations?
There are many reasons why leaders avoid critical conversations. Some leaders like to avoid conflict. They may desire to preserve the false sense of calm and collegiality that is in their team. This is fallible thinking because unchecked team member behaviors erode positive company culture. Other leaders are fearful of losing team members. They believe that everyone they confront will resign and they will be stuck trying to fill vacant positions. This is fallible thinking because a leader should not want that kind of person on the team anyway. Lastly, some leaders just want to be liked. They are fearful that they will lose the favor of their team if they must chastise or reprimand. This is fallible thinking because most team members desire to be properly led. When a performing team member observes another team member’s poor behavior go unchecked, it is demotivating and perpetuates doubt in the leader’s ability to lead.
How do you have a critical conversation?
A critical conversation does not have to be confrontational, but it should be direct. These conversations should be held face-to-face, if possible. A colleague once told me, if an email draft reaches a third paragraph, it means a conversation should be had instead. Critical conversations should not be conducted via email. Also, these conversations should be planned and scheduled in advance. This ensures that interruptions and distractions are limited, and the other party recognizes the seriousness of the conversation to be had.
In traditional feedback sessions, we are often encouraged to temper constructive feedback with positive feedback. This is not necessarily the case in critical conversations. You do not want your message to be lost or watered down by positive praise that may be irrelevant to the subject at hand. You must be direct without being severe, but you cannot waver in your expression of your standards and expectations.
During critical conversations, it is important to reference previously conveyed rules, policies, procedures, and expectations if possible. Feelings and emotions can be argued, standards of practice cannot. In instances when the unacceptable behavior is more subjective, such as negative attitudes, try to identify specific behaviors that reflect the negative attitude and refer to concrete examples of how the unacceptable behavior impacts others or the organization.
What is the result of the critical conversation?
The ideal result of a critical conversation is changed behavior. In a perfect scenario, the other party realizes the gravity of their behavior and immediately works to correct it. Alternatively, the other party may not agree about the views of their behavior or performance, but they recognize that their leader does not approve so they will conform. Conversely, a person may rebel, lash out, or leave. As a leader, you must be okay with someone’s disgruntled exit. What that means is that they are not responsive to leadership, do not demonstrate a growth mindset, and cannot conform to the norms and standards set by your organization. Ultimately, that person is not an asset to your team, no matter how talented they may be.
If you would like coaching in critical conversations, I would be happy to help! Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!
The word toxic is used frequently to describe behaviors, relationships, and environments, but what does it mean? The word toxic literally means poisonous, but when used in this way, it refers to the undesirable, destructive, and detrimental characteristics of something that drain and damage those that encounter it. How do you know if you work in a toxic environment? Here are a few indicators:
Workplace culture is the leader’s responsibility. A leader has the choice to create the workplace culture or accept and perpetuate a culture that develops on its own. If a toxic work environment exists, then the leader either created that culture through their behavior or allowed other employees to create the toxic culture. In either scenario, the leader has failed, and their team suffers.
If you are a leader that recognizes that your workplace culture is toxic, it is important that you become the catalyst for change. Addressing your own toxic leadership traits is the first step to shifting the culture. Set the example by cultivating authentic relationships with all employees on your team, not just a select few. Actively seek to collaborate and receive feedback from subordinates. Communicate positively and welcome new ideas. Effective, sustainable change begins with the leader!
If you are a leader and would like coaching and support to change your organizational culture, I would be happy to assist! Contact me today!