Creating a specific leadership framework requires you to consider what it is that you’re trying to achieve. By judging whether your actions fit within this framework, it serves as a lens through which your leadership can be viewed – both by you and by others.
I was recently asked by a client to help them work on their leadership style and to give pointers on how to lead effectively. My first question was to ask about their framework for leadership. They had not considered that they could (and should) have a predominant framework through which they were leading. In helping them develop their leadership style, this was a good place to start.
Using models of leadership to find your framework
There are many different models of leadership: situational, autocratic, democratic, strategic, transformational, facilitative. What do you consider your leader model to be? Let’s look more closely at a few of the most common:
The autocratic model:
This is a common position. It’s where the leader decides what should be done, and then through command and control dictates how and when action should be taken. It is very effective in getting results, motivating people, and can get a lot achieved. However it is also extremely effective at alienating people, losing credibility, and breaking down relationships. It is the classic power distance relationship where the leader takes a position and then the followers must compliantly follow instructions.
The democratic model:
This is a postmodern approach in which the leader embraces all parties, opinions, and the validity of relative truth in context. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that it can take a long time to get things done. It is focused on consensus, yet harmony may not be the overall objective. I see a lot of well-meaning leaders trying to take this position when in fact a more autocratic approach is required for success. We live in the era of personal choice, inclusivity, and an increased consideration of individual needs, for these reasons the democratic approach has been favoured lately.
The situational leadership model:
This model suggests that the success of the leader is dependent on the use of power bases. The leader chooses one or more of seven power bases, depending on the circumstances:
• Coercive power – based on fear, inducing compliance through reprimands or punishment
• Connection power – through connections with influential people and gaining favour with powerful people
• Expert power – possession of knowledge, expertise, and skill to influence others
• Information power – access to information that is useful to others
• Legitimate power – through their position in the hierarchy in the organization, they expect compliance
• Reverent power – based on personal traits, being liked, admired and identified with by the followers
• Reward power – the ability to provide rewards which people want
(from Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard)
Other types of leadership framework
This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s not even a favoured list of leadership positions. However it creates great stimulus, and gets people thinking about how they want to lead. Are they a charismatic boss, a servant, or a transactional leader? How are these questions important to you as a leader? How can they start to help you form a leadership framework?
Having discussed these questions with the client, we started to map out a model they wanted to use in leading their team effectively.
Once you decide which style you lean towards, you’ll have a real idea about which leadership framework you want to promote or focus on. Whichever you settle on, it will help you understand the drive behind your core leadership values, and in turn make better decisions.
For more information on leadership, take a look at our complete Guide to Leadership Skills