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Winning Elections

Does Leadership Style Matter?

Thursday, 4th May 2017

By, GBS Corporate Training

#SituationalLeadership  #GeneralElection  #Leadership

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With the UK general election only weeks away we ask whether Leadership style is an important determinant in winning an election and discuss how this relates to the Business environment.

recent BBC News article compares and contrasts the different Leadership styles of past UK Prime Ministers. The immediate post-war Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, believed in collective (or democratic) leadership - accepting that his colleagues "may perhaps be wiser than oneself".

Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, used a more autocratic Leadership style, through which she succeeded in championing and implementing her sometimes controversial policies. However this Leadership style ultimately led to her being ousted as Prime Minister by members of her own cabinet and parliamentary party.

“I suppose Leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means getting along with people.” Mahatma Gandhi

The two party political Leaders into the final round of the French election have contrasting Leadership styles. According to the Express Newspaper, Emmanuel Macron presents more 'old-style top-down' Leadership, typical of many French leaders, quoted as saying “in two weeks’ time I hope to become your President”, suggesting his ambition is on attaining position/ power.

Marine Le Pen adopts a style less often seen in France - that of the ‘servant leader’. She has spoken of accepting the responsibility of taking part in the second round with “humility and gratitude”.

There are only 6 weeks until the UK general election, and the Leadership styles of the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition could not be more different. The Guardian reports that aides to the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, believe the public will be won round the more they are exposed to Corbyn’s warmer and more collegiate Leadership style, and his belief he must act in “empowering others to make up their minds and come on board when they are ready”.

A recent profile of Theresa May in The Economist says ‘her vision of Leadership is focused on giving statements, installing processes, gathering up information and control’ suggesting a much more autocratic style of Leadership.

“In the past a Leader was a Boss. Today’s Leaders can no longer lead solely based on positional power.” Ken Blanchard

Consideration of past and present political Leaders displays a variety of Leadership styles so it might be argued that their style is not the key factor of whether they win an election or not. Perhaps a more important question is whether the Leadership style that they adopt gets results.

This is a critical question for businesses, and according to Situational Leadership theory, there are no good or bad leadership styles, only those that are appropriate for the given situation of task and people.

Situational Leadership explained

Developed by Dr. Paul Hersey in the late 1960s, the Situational Leadership® model is a powerful, yet flexible tool which provides Leaders with a framework to more effectively influence others and to navigate the demands of an ever-demanding workforce.

Deployed in more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies, the Situational Leadership® approach transcends cultural and generational differences and equips Leaders around the globe with the skills necessary to address specific challenges, drive behaviour change and increase productivity.

“A Situational Leader is anybody anywhere who recognises that influencing behaviour is not an event, but a process.” Dr. Paul Hersey

Situational Leadership is an adaptive leadership framework, based on the relationship between Leaders (Managers) and followers (staff). The model encourages Leaders to analyse specific business situations based on the:

  • amount of guidance and direction (task behaviour) a Leader gives
  • amount of socio-emotional support (relationship behaviour) a Leader provides
  • readiness level that followers exhibit in performing a specific task, function, or objective

The approach encourages Leaders to take stock of their team members, weigh the many variables in their workplace and choose the Leadership style that best fits their goals and circumstances.

Successful Leaders have the insight to understand when to change their management style and what leadership strategy fits each new paradigm.

Hersey suggests that Leaders should match their Leadership style to the development level of the person, or people, being led. The Leadership model describes development levels in terms of the follower's competence (ability) and commitment (willingness). So, Situational Leadership is about the extent to which followers are able and willing, as well as the style that the Leader adopts.

GBS Corporate Training is the sole UK provider of Situational Leadership® training.

In the Business environment, as well as in the political environment, Leaders that are successful are those that are able to assess situations correctly, select and apply the appropriate Leadership and Management style, and then continuously review their choice.

GBS provides a series of Situational Leadership training courses related to different applications of the model. We help Leaders to learn to appropriately balance their task direction with proper relationship behaviour, which helps to maintain high levels of consistent performance across team members.