Resourced Leaders

'Resourced Leaders' is a premier Australian based Leadership Performance organisation that specialises in working with senior executives, leaders and high performing individuals who aspire to greater levels of personal leadership and success.

The key to leadership flexibility

Posted by Phil Owens
Phil Owens
Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He
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on Monday, 21 January 2013 in Leadership

When coaching clients, they often describe a desire to have 'better leadership flexibility' - or to see it in their staff.  Understanding leadership flexibility and how to create it is critical in business - and it is not as hard as most people think!

Leadership flexibility can be described as "The ability to lead and manage others in a non-rigid way".  The definition is important, because too often people want leadership 'flexibility' to mean using a more negotiated, discussion and consensus based approach.

This, however, is faulty.  Leadership flexibility is about being able to utilise a full range of leadership styles, from 'dictator' right through to 'confessor'.  Sometimes you need to be rigid, dogmatic and directive.  Consider issues such as ethics, compliance, legal issues, occupational health and safety, your principles, your standards or your values.

In these things I would want and expect a leader to be the 'dictator'.   clear and consistent 'directive' is required where the organisation can tolerate little latitude.  Crisis communication is a perfect example of this.

However, there are many other times when different leadership styles should be employed.  Differing levels of negotiation, inclusion and adaptability can be applied depending on the specific issue.  Developing buy-in, overcoming political impasses and developing the skills and competencies of the people require a more open and less dictatorial leadership style.

The key to leadership flexibility is therefore to:

  • Lead issue by issue, congruent with your styles and values.
  • Determine 'what is at stake':  is it a critical issue with no latitude that requires a dictatorial style?
  • Determine the human implication:  How does this impact the people involved - does it help develop their long term value for the organisation?  
  • What would I miss by simply being dictatorial?

Often people have 'problems' with being dictatorial - they have a belief that it will ensure they are not liked or appreciated.  On the contrary - when it is made clear 'why' the issue is being dealt with in a directive way, it can give people certainty which they greatly appreciate.  If you are consistent in your application of flexibility, the staff can understand and appreciate both the role you play and the opportunity for their participation.

What is your leadership style?  How could you be more flexible?

Stay Resourceful.


Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He honed his skills working with executives and leaders around the world, coaching and consulting in over 30 countries, from entrepreneurial start-ups to boards of multi-billion dollar businesses.


Faz Saturday, 27 December 2014

So, Dictators aren't always bad!?

Very insightful. I do tend to back away from my natural tendency to be dictatorial. But I can see how, if deployed properly, it can be of use.

Cheers, Faz

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