former. If the attitude is not right, then being a good at the job is not
enough. You need both.
Applying your style in practice
These five scenarios should demonstrate the need for you to ‘think’ as
much as to ‘act’ when you become a leader. Leading people is rarely
trouble-free and many situations will arise which require significant
analysis before acting – often this has to be done under pressure. The scen-
arios also highlight that flexibility in your approach will be essential and
applying the best leadership style to fit the needs of the situation will be a
challenge. There is unfortunately no simple formula that can serve as a
guide for all occasions. However, as a rule, you should try to adopt an
engaging style with your team for as much of the time as possible once you
have established yourself with your team.
These scenarios also show that much of your time at work will be taken up
in dealing with people-related issues as you strive to ensure that outcomes
are achieved. That is why the leadership profile and the core leadership
skills are so important. Without working on developing your potential
through achieving your personal goals, then the application of any leader-
ship styles will become extremely difficult for you. It is not so much the
style that you will adopt which is important, but whether you have the per-
sonal capacity or skills to carry it off.
Another point is evident here. As we said earlier, the idea promoted about
leadership being concerned with the transforming hero seeking to change
the world is clearly not the reality for most first-time leaders in the work-
place. That is why we have tried throughout this book to place leadership
at work in the right context. Leading people at work can be exciting, chal-
lenging and rewarding, but it often has to focus on the ordinary and less
stimulating aspects of getting the job done well. That does not mean that
the leader’s role is mundane, but some of the things you will have to do
As a general rule, when you start in your leadership role, you will tend to
adopt the steering style of leadership during the early days. You want your
READ_C11.QXP 1/10/07 12:05 Page 139
team members to understand where you are coming from and what you
expect from them. You will also need to define what the acceptable behav-
iours are. This requires direction and control on your behalf until you get
the team operating in the way that you want. Once you see that they are
progressing, then you can shift to a more engaging style.
But don’t think that, even at the start, you will only use the steering style,
although this will likely be your predominant approach in the first few
weeks. You need to judge the best
response to each situation as it
You need to judge the best
response to each situation as
it arises.
As a leader, you must:
Stop Start
Acting first, then thinking Thinking about the best approach before
you act
Believing that one leadership style will
fit all occasions
Understanding that flexibility in your
leadership style will be key
Worrying when you get the approach
Learning from the experience and
aiming to be better next time
READ_C11.QXP 1/10/07 12:05 Page 140

Get Ready To Lead? now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.