It’s not news that great leadership is essential to the long-term health and growth of a company, but neuroscience has offered new insights into some of the biological and psychological factors behind leadership development. Recent studies reveal just how powerful of an impact leaders have on their followers.
For example, research has demonstrated that emotions have a contagion effect, essentially “infecting” an organization with the feelings projected by leaders. The bad news? Negative feelings have a tendency to drown out positive ones, so effective and consistent positive leadership is critical for long-term success.
Why Systemic Executive Coaching Can Lead to Leadership Success
So what exactly can organizations do to ensure that their leaders and employees maintain a positive outlook?
Executive coaching has been shown to dramatically increase one’s leadership capacity which, in turn, helps employees achieve their potential and adds to the company’s bottom line. While tactical coaching focuses on applying a step-by-step script to each and every situation, through systemic executive coaching, leaders learn to think on their feet and adapt to the needs of their subordinates and the situation. By avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach, leaders become better equipped to deal with an ever-changing organizational climate.
How exactly can executive coaching equip leaders with this adaptability and responsiveness? By teaching executives the method and application of situational leadership, which holds that no single leadership style is best and that the most effective leaders are able to change their approach based on the demands of the situation.
This model of leadership was first introduced in 1969 by behavioral scientist Paul Hersey and management expert Ken Blanchard in their classic text, “Management of Organized Behavior.” The best leaders, Hersey and Blanchard suggested, are those who adapt their leadership style based on the task at hand and the maturity level of those they are leading.
How Can Leaders Learn to Use Situational Skills?
So how can systemic executive coaching help people develop these critical situational leadership skills? Whereas tactical coaching might simply present executives with a basic script to follow in all situations, systemic coaching focuses on helping people improve their leadership skills in three critical ways:
- By learning how to read the situation. Leaders learn how to step back and look at each situation with an objective and critical eye.
- By assessing the needs and skill levels of subordinates. Not all followers possess the same maturity and skill levels. Situational leadership takes these variables into account when determining which leadership style to utilize. Followers low on skill will require more hands-on training and direction, while highly skilled followers might need less supervision and greater freedom.
- By responding in ways best suited to the particular task and setting. Systemic executive coaching helps leaders become more self-aware and informed of the influence they have over followers. By discovering their own strengths and learning how their own actions influence others, leaders can be better equipped to respond to rapidly changing situations. In his 1985 book, “The Situational Leader,” Hersey suggested that skilled leaders set high yet realistic expectations of their followers. They have an awareness of what their people are capable of and by setting the bar high — but not too high — followers are better able and more motivated to live up to these expectations.
The Three Paths to Leadership
Industrial psychologist Bernard M. Bass once suggested that there are three ways people become leaders: They are born with it, they rise to the occasion during a time of crisis, or they make the choice to become leaders. Tactical executive coaching might give people the skills to respond in specific ways to specific situations, but systemic executive coaching can help leaders explore their natural talents, develop the adaptability to respond to the unexpected, strengthen their leadership capacity, and move their companies forward.
Situations change. People change. Systemic executive coaching provides leaders with the skills and knowledge they need to adapt to this change and lead with authority and efficacy.
What have you found most effective in developing your situational leadership skills?