One of the qualities of great journalism I respect is balance.

In her blog on collaborative leadership, Andjela Vidojevic did an outstanding job of presenting a wealth of information in a balanced way.

It would be easy to treat collaborative leadership as a better and more “correct” leadership style, compared to command-and-control. However, Andjela does not take that route.

Instead, she includes thoughts on the market forces that helped collaborative styles become successful, when collaborative approaches work best and when they do not, and how to cultivate a collaborative approach.

I’d like to add that we might want to view leadership on a continuum rather than as a dichotomy. Maybe what “leads” the way in leadership is cultivating what works from multiple styles and creating a style that can be responsive to the situation at hand.

For example, recently a Customer Success manager I know was on a call with her team and an Enterprise client. My colleague’s client began to get a bit aggressive and accusatory, at which point she took control of the call and skillfully intervened.

In most situations, she tends to utilize a collaborative approach—polling her team and her clients, sometimes simultaneously, on best practices, and she galvanizes agreement on the pathway forward. After this recent call, her team thanked her for cutting things off at the pass and taking control.

So, perhaps the most effective leadership style is one that responds best to the situation at hand.

Here are some steps leaders can take to begin to cultivate responsiveness:

  • Identify situations you deal with in managing and leading your teams where you feel you perform particularly well, and ones where you are unsatisfied with your performance.
  • Where you feel you perform well, identify the characteristics of your leadership style that really work, and what it is about the people and/or situations that mesh so well with that style.
  • Conversely, where you don’t perform well, identify the characteristics of your leadership style that don’t work, or what is missing that would elevate your performance and what it is about the circumstances and/or people that necessitate these alternate approaches.
  • Create a plan to develop yourself where you are missing skillsets or where your skills are not strong. Use a coach to support you.
  • Begin to create identifying characteristics of situations and people that mesh with all the different styles you are developing, and when you see those pop up, practice something new!

At Impact Speaking Lab, we have developed a method to cultivate responsive leadership that we call Leading for Impact. At the heart of this method is developing your ability to see all the people you interact with as heroes on a journey of their own, fraught with challenges and difficulties. Let your leadership style bend to provide what THEY NEED to win on their journey!