Some of us are loud, in-your-face leaders. Others take a lower key approach, preferring quiet and tactful manner to motivate the people we are leading.
Many leaders I work with believe that they only need one style or approach to leadership. Yet what I’ve learned in working with hundreds of leaders and through my own leadership style, the challenge isn’t to hold one, but rather to know when to change your style.
This point was reinforced recently through the story of Jose Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League, one of the best teams in all of English football.
The 52-year-old Portuguese coach is now in his second tour of duty with Chelsea. And given his previous accomplishments during his first go around – multiple Premiership and FA Cup titles – expectations were very high. However, in 2013-14, his first year back, things didn’t go as planned. Chelsea went deep into league and cup draws, but took home no trophies.
This season, Mourinho is back with a vengeance, leading Chelsea to a League Cup and a top spot in the Premiership. Mourinho attributes much of the success this year to a personal decision to abandon his “confrontational style” of leadership.
Mourinho described a confrontational style as those times when “you are ready to provoke your players to try to create some conflicts with the intention to bring out the best in them.” This year, the manager said, he has a new group of players with a new attitude, and it hasn’t required him to provoke them nearly as much.
“In this moment I don’t think I need (the confrontational style) with this group,” Mourinho told The Daily Mail, “because things are going in the direction I want.”
Mourinho’s comments certainly rang true for me. I have always thought that your context needs to define your leadership style. It is simply impossible to have one approach to leadership that is applicable to all situations. Great leaders adjust their behavior and approach depending on the circumstances they face at any given time.
Sometimes you do need to provoke those that you lead because the results you require aren’t there. Other times you can back off a little because those you lead are clear on what needs to get done, are mature in how they approach their roles and demonstrate personal accountability.
The important thing is to constantly assess one’s leadership style against the context in which we lead, what you need to accomplish and the style that will best help you succeed.
This week’s Gut Check question: Can you change your leadership style to drive better results?
About the Author
Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.Follow on Twitter More Content by Vince Molinaro