A telltale sign of a great leader is that they have “behavioural flexibility”…
Great leaders aren’t always tough, or always friendly, or always futuristic in their thinking. They have the capacity to be all those things, plus some—depending on what sort of situation they’re confronting. They have many arrows in their quiver, many tools in their leadership toolbox.
What’s behind this behavioural flexibility? Their vigilance…
They’re vigilant about not letting how-they-see-themselves determine how they’ll behave.
Unless You’re Vigilant, How You See Yourself Will Determine How You’ll Behave
If you intend to upgrade your leadership practices and behaviours, it’s essential to be consistently mindful of this. But the worry is…
- If you see yourself as a strong, tough leader that’s how you’ll behave—
which is good when strength and toughness are called for, say when you need to make a difficult business decision.However strength and toughness isn’t a good idea if the context calls for sensitive, supportive behaviours, say if you’re talking with a team member who needs a confidence boost.
- If you see yourself as a chatty, friendly leader you’ll be chatty and friendly—
and that’s perfect sometimes, say over a casual coffee with a team member.But it’s not a good idea in a Performance Management discussion with that team member.
- If you see yourself as a big-picture futurist, you’ll think and talk like a big picture futurist—
and this is commendable when you’re having a strategic discussion about how you want the next three-years to look.On the other hand, it’s not going to work well if the aim is to drill-down into the detail of what went wrong with the project and determine exactly what needs to happen to get it back on track.
Strength, toughness, chattiness, friendliness and big-picture, futuristic thinking are definitely highly appropriate behaviours sometimes—but not all of the time!
So what does this mean for you and your leadership practices and behaviours?
Be Alert (But Not Alarmed)
First up, check your self-perception. Write down the adjectives that you’d use to describe your leadership behaviours. Keep on writing until you have at least ten or twelve descriptors.
We’ll call this list your “Leadership Identity”.
Being alert to your Leadership Identity is step one in your refining process.
It’s Critical That You’re Context Specific
Step two is to habituate thinking about the context that you’re about to encounter before you encounter it…
Think about your intended outcomes—and think through how an exemplary leader would behave in that context.
Where are those exemplary leadership behaviours well aligned with your natural behaviours—those ones that are on your Leadership Identity list—and where are they different?
Your Leadership Call to Action
You’ll definitely have refined your leadership behaviours when, rather than jumping in and doing and saying what comes naturally, you ask yourself:
What approach does this context call for?
Which leadership behaviours do I need to pull out-of-the-bag here?
If you, or a leader in your team, could do with support in developing this behavioural flexibility, email me. I’ll respond with a suggested time for a phone discussion so we can determine if I’m the right person to help you move closer to being an exemplary leader.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.