Performance-Based Leadership: The Leader Styles in Action

Performance-Based Leadership: The Leader Styles in Action

In our last post, we talked about the importance of recognizing how varying levels of competence and motivation can inform your leadership. Now, let’s walk through a few scenarios to show you what the Performance-Based Leader Styles can look like in action!

Avoid Moving From Directing to Delegating and Back Again

Consider leadership as a mirror. How you respond to challenges reveals a lot. Ever find yourself moving from being highly directive to saying “just handle it” and then swinging back again when things don’t go as planned? Welcome to one of the most common and frustrating cycles a leader can get stuck in; this unproductive pattern almost guarantees you’ll come off as dominating, and it throws people off and erodes trust.

Let’s use the real word example of Amy, the graphic designer.

You have a big marketing campaign coming up and ask Amy to be on point for the graphics. It’s her first time as a point-person on a project like this, so you give her specific direction, tell her what to do and how to do it, and then leave her to do her thing. Two weeks later, you glance at her draft and panic – this isn’t what you had in mind at all. Now, you’re in her workspace, hovering over every design choice. “Why this font? Can we tweak this color? Move this icon a bit to the left…” Before you know it, Amy’s creativity is stifled and she’s essentially become a mouse-clicker executing your every whim.

The impact: Amy starts feeling like a cog, not a creator.

Style adjustment: Because Amy is newer to this type of project, after giving her directions, schedule check-ins along the way. If she gets stuck, avoid reverting to a highly directive style and instead help her brainstorm and think through decisions without undercutting her sense of responsibility.

Recognize Progress and Adapt Your Style

Imagine Sarah, a data analyst. Sarah comes straight out of school, eager but ready to work. At first, she’s a bit overwhelmed. As she works on analyzing monthly sales data, you guide her through the database, explain the metrics, and help her make her first report. Weeks pass and you notice Sarah’s reports are increasingly insightful. She’s even started suggesting improvements based on patterns she’s identified.

The impact: Initially, Sarah felt like a fish out of water, but your specific direction helped her build confidence and competence. Now she’s making data-driven suggestions that are beneficial to your operations.

Style adjustment: Recognize Sarah’s growth and start pulling back on the direct oversight, gradually letting her make more decisions and come to you for support when she needs it. Be there for questions and continue to offer strategic insights, but move towards letting her own her projects.

Empower Others with a Balance of Trust and Support

Carlos joined your sales team a few months ago, with years of experience in another organization. When he first started you were sure to give him specific directions, and clearly articulated deadlines and expected outcomes.

Now, it’s midway through the quarter, and Carlos seems to have hit a slump. Sales numbers are plateauing. Instead of reclaiming the wheel, you check in with him, asking him questions to help him think through what needs to be done, coaching him to make decisions. When Carlos still struggles to make progress, you make the decision based on his input.

The impact: Carlos feels valued and empowered. He knows he’s trusted to do his job but also knows he has a support network when he encounters hitches. This doesn’t just elevate Carlos; it sets a standard for the whole team.

Being in tune with your team’s needs and noticing when you should be adapting your Leader Style can make all the difference. As we close out this series, remember this: leadership is less a sprint and more a marathon, with twists, turns, and a heck of a lot of learning. It isn’t about a cookie-cutter approach; it’s a dynamic interplay that’s constantly evolving.

Adam Frye
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