When I took my first steps into the interesting field of leadership -now already 20 years ago- all training courses and leadership development programmes were full of "Situational Leadership". You've probably heard of this term yourself, because it's still a popular thing to talk about when discussing leadership.
Later on, following even more leadership courses throughout my evolving career, and especially when I stepped into the field of consultancy myself, the term "Authentic Leadership" was clearly the hot thing to talk about.
Along the way, also other forms passed by: transformational leadership, transactional leadership, charismatic leadership, authoritarian leadership,...
And in these times of social media, where everybody has an opinion or a brilliant insight ready to be shared with the world, even more styles, forms, and names are thrown at everybody who wants (or doesn't want) to hear of them.
Can you still see the wood for the trees?
Read along, and I will give you my humble, quirky, historical overview.
In brief, Situational Leadership means that you as a leader adapt your leadership style to the situation you're in. Meaning, if you're talking to person A, you adapt yourself to the preferences of person A. If you're talking to person B, you're adapting to person B. If person A is in situation X, you adapt to it. If person A is in situation Z, once again, you adapt to it.
In itself, a nice way to look at leadership. Because you, as a leader, always support your people in the way that fits best for them, and you give them exactly what they need at the time they need it most.
However -and this is the downside of it- it makes you, as a leader, a bit of a chameleon. You're constantly adapting to every person and every situation. Which sometimes can become confusing for the people around you: sometimes you react like this, and at others you react like that?!?
That's why the world of leadership slowly evolved into Authentic Leadership. Your predictability as a leader is very important to your peers and teammates.
So you, as a leader, should be able to be and remain your true authentic self. With the big benefit of being predictable.
We all know you have to repeat the same message multiple times before it really sticks in the ears of your audience. Well, with this form of predictability, your people know upfront how you're going to react to certain things, and it becomes crystal clear to them what is important to both you and the company. An ideal way to communicate and transfer your vision.
Sounds likes a brilliant thing, doesn't it? But what if your true authentic self is not in line with what your people really need at a specific moment in time? (which was the big benefit of Situational Leadership)
That's why I personally, and we at The Happiness Factory in general, are more in favour of talking about Sincere Leadership.
A form of leadership where your leadership goals/purpose, your authentic self, and what is needed to get you and your team/company to that goal/purpose, all come together.
In short, let's call Sincere Leadership the result of the marriage between all beneficial elements of both Situational Leadership and Authentic Leadership.
I've already written more extensively about this form of leadership in these 2 blogs:
You definitely have to check them out if you want to learn more.
Or, if you're more of a visual and/or auditive person, get our Ambitious Leader Chat where Karolien and I talk about all the details of Sincere Leadership. Just express your interest here (Get access to our Ambitious Leader Chat about Sincere Leadership), and we'll send you the video!
Here's a 60 seconds preview of what to expect:
And what about the variety of all those other forms of leadership I mentioned in the beginning?
Well, I like to keep things easy, simple, and especially not overcomplicate them.
Yes, we can come up with many different forms and names, but are they truly different? Are they bringing something genuinely refreshing?
For me, all those other variations are more about the 'how' of leadership: how you approach things, how you communicate, how much freedom you give, how detailed you are,...
And, of course, that 'how' is also very important. But in my eyes, the 'how' should always be a result of the true purpose you're striving for. So please, don't mix up the outer layer -what you see or what is displayed- with the real core of leadership.
Now, to keep you curious: I believe there is still a more advanced type of leader: the Philosopher Leader. But that's something for a next blog post ;-)
For now, and for all other Ambitious Leaders like you: focus on being the most Sincere Leader you can be, by aligning your leadership purpose and your personal preferences (your authenticity), and ensuring that your behaviour is supporting that purpose!
Or if you want to learn more, or want to make things more bespoke to your specific situation/personality, just reach out for a conversation, and I will be more than happy to have an interesting conversation with you!
Simply click the button below, choose 'Online Services', select a (re-)connect session, choose who you want to talk to, and pick the moment that suits best to have the conversation.
Or reach out through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Dennis Fredrickx, Coach for Ambitous Leaders Dennis helps Ambitious Leaders to reach more in an easier way.