Follow the Leader… Not Just a Child’s Game

Tina and DawnMy sister-in-law, Tina, who is a very close friend of Jenna Martin, decided to join in the Frail Family Olympics. Tina is someone who has struggled with her weight for a very long time, and being a long haul truck driver doesn’t make her trials any easier. With the excitement, Tina decided to come along on our run.

As we set out on our 5.4km run/jog/walk/crawl, Tina found that after about a kilometre, she had to turn back. John (my hubby, her brother) went back with her and then caught up with us.

I figured that would be the end of Tina’s ‘Olympic’ run, but the very next day, Tina was out with us once again. She clearly was more dedicated than I thought she would be. But just like the day earlier, she made it to about the 1km mark before she turned back.

That was the last time she went out with us. We applauded her efforts to go with us on the two occasions that she did, but did she feel a sense of accomplishment, or the weight of a feeling of failure?

As a leader how many times have you seen a team member excited and motivated to join the project, even though they weren’t quite ready to face the challenge?

As a leader we are partially responsible for managing the motivation levels of our followers. That includes not letting people get in over their heads. But how do you do that at the same time as balancing their development and keeping them engaged?

One way is to ask two very key questions that are at the heart of the situational leadership model developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the lat 1960’s.

  1. Does she have the competence to perform the task? (demonstrated at acceptable levels in past performance)
  2. Does she have the confidence to perform the task? (motivation and enthusiasm to perform it unsupervised)

If the competence is low, get her training or on-the-job instruction before putting her into a situation where she may not know what she doesn’t know.

But if the competence is medium or high, then consider putting her into the situation where she can test her skill. If her competence is medium, give her more support than you might otherwise provide. If her competence is high, consider leaving her on her own to perform the task. In this case, your amount of involvement would depend on her level of confidence.

If you’d like to know more about situational leadership as a method for managing performance, give me a call. It’s easy to learn and very straight forward, and works in every situation. It’s so powerful that I included it as part of the International Women’s Leadership Project. If you’ve never heard of it before, now is the perfect time to add this powerful tool to your tool belt.


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