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Adapt Your Leadership Style to the Situation at Hand

Publish Date: May 27, 2020


Some situations call for a more directive style, while others call for a more open-ended approach. Sometimes you need to stick to the plan, while at other times it’s best to adapt on the fly. To navigate this, develop a portfolio of micro-behaviors that you can employ depending on the situation at hand. Start by understanding your natural tendencies. What’s your default leadership style? What’s your comfort zone? If you’re not sure, get feedback from others. Then learn, adjust, and practice. Formal coaching can help — whether it’s by another person or even an AI coaching bot. Finally, work on your emotional intelligence and contextual awareness skills. This can be tricky, but if you’re wondering which style is right for a given moment, trust the people around you to give you feedback. Developing the dexterity to move between different leadership styles is extremely challenging, but it can be achieved, with focused efforts.

From HBR.org, this tip is adapted from “Every Leader Needs to Navigate These 7 Tensions,” by Jennifer Jordan, Michael Wade, and Elizabeth Teracino