We Have a Situation

This past week at my internship, I tried to particularly pay attention to group dynamics and leadership styles among different groups, since I have been meeting with a couple new groups of people. To add more variance to the situation, a round of promotions has just been announced, so many of the people who I have been working with have new positions. I have been curious to see how these title changes may affect the behaviors of team members.

In a previous post, I mentioned the duties of each team member varies based on seniority. I realized this week that in team status/check-in meetings, the highest-ranking employee is not the one leading the meeting, but rather the second-highest ranking employee. For example, in the weekly meeting I have with one team, which consists of a consultant, senior consultant, manager, and vice president, the manager is the one who leads the meetings. I realized this was a common pattern at KCIC when I attended a different team’s status meeting, where a senior consultant was running the show, as opposed to the senior manager, who was only adding comments. This pattern of leadership particularly reminded me of Situational Leadership.

Situational Leadership states that a leader should take a prescribed leadership style based on the follower’s maturity level. In these status meetings, there is a clear chain of command. Consultants check their decisions with Senior Consultants, Senior Consultants check in with Managers, Managers with Senior Managers, and so on. In these meetings, the leader (employee with highest position) takes the “supporting” role, as he is confident that the follower (employee with next highest position) has a good measure of ability, but has variable confidence or motivation. By supporting the follower, the leader gives them little direction, but is there to fill in the gaps when they fall short. Supporting is a good method to smoothly transition an employee from a manager position to a senior manager position.

Situational Leadership is also apparent in that the President is confident that his employees have high ability and high willingness, and therefore “delegates” the work. Most work done at KCIC is independent of the President, which exemplifies the success of using this leadership style. By entrusting fully able and highly motivated employees to take full responsibility for their work, tasks are completed accurately and efficiently.

This theory may be very useful for when the new hires start in August. New hires are generally highly motivated, but not entirely able yet, so a highly directive, minimally supportive style of leadership may work best to lead these employees. It is unsure how each new hire will respond to this type of leadership, as everyone is different and may have varying levels of commitment and competence. However, if KCIC is unsure how to approach the new hires in August, Situational Leadership may offer a suggestive guide on leading these followers.