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When to Let Go


I loved this framing of situational leadership that came originally from Alice Chapman but was featured by Will Myddelton as a way of describing the challenge of knowing when to direct as a leader, and when to let go. Will describes how in his own leadership journey he was struggling to understand how to adapt his leadership style to different contexts and ended up flipping between different approaches which simply led to frustration. Alice encouraged him to think about the levels of competence and confidence of the person in the specific situation and use that to adapt his style. High levels of both mean that you can set goals and then get out of the way, but it's fine to step in and be more directing when people don't know what they're doing. People who are confident but actually have low levels of competence would likely benefit from retraining. But team members who are very competent but need to build their confidence can gain most from coaching.

It's a wonderfully simple framework (as all the best ones are) and I think captures the kind of situational leadership which is often lacking in many teams. Will talks about how this helped him to not only focus on the work but to think about how adapting his leadership style might get the best out of his people. Many leaders (and sometimes organisations) can become characterised by one dominant style but as with all complex scenarios the answer is more balanced and a more nuanced approach that takes account of context and involves some situational awareness is far better.

Image source (HT)

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