Situational Leadership


This is a reprint of an old post, for those of you that weren't reading this blog three years ago.

I recently applied for a new position with more managerial responsibility. During the interview I was asked some really tough questions. One of the final questions was "If you were in a meeting and had a major disagreement with what someone was saying, how would you respond?" I said something about having to read the person and make a guess about which of several approaches would be better. Some people are fine if you just directly oppose them. Other people don't deal well with that, and you need to ask questions that get them to realize on their own why they are wrong.

Most of my answers were this way, and towards the end of the interview someone in the room asked if I had received "situational leadership" training, because that is the approach I seemed to take. I have not. But I think he is right – I am a situational leader.

New management fads come out every year. I always read up on them, but disagree with much of what they say. Many of these books always make management and leadership seem so simple, and imply that if you just focus on one thing (the fad) then you will be a great manager. I don't think that is true. Management and leadership are complex because people are complex. Rather than stick to one style or form, leaders should be able to analyze a situation and determine what type of response is best given the parties involved.

I bring this up because I often get tired of seeing these fad books every year, and sometimes I think I should just quit reading all that crap. But now I see it in a little bit different light. Each fad, each style, each book, has some truths in it, and I try to go through it with an open mind and take away what is important. I'm building my own management and leadership philosophies that are difficult to put into words, but will (I hope) serve me well one day.