Leadership style to motivate - part 2

January 22, 2020

The starting point to apply the situational leadership is to assess the development level for each follower based on the tasks they must complete. Once this first step is done, we can identify which style works best for each team. As stated in 3.1 the target we would like to reach is a situation where teams are very much independent, and the leadership style of a software architect is supporting or delegating. To first assess and then have a constant feedback loop with teams, as software architects, we do what we call a weekly sync meeting with each team where, by discussing the details of their tasks, it is possible for us to understand the current development level of a specific group and eventually adjust the appropriate leadership style.

It is also interesting to notice that teams tend to act as separated silos. While this is great to keep the focus on a single task and get it done in the long run this can lead to a certain level of disconnection from the rest and innovations cannot be shared across multiple working groups. Company’s value like ‘we seek to innovate’ give us the mandate to pursue innovation and reward successful initiatives. From time to time, to share innovative ideas and different approaches across teams, we organize events where a team can present their concept to other teams. An activity like this allows individuals to satisfy level 3 (belonging, social) and level 4 (self-esteem) of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Should a leader match his or her leadership style on the overall group or individual members of the group? One of the biggest downsides of situational leadership approach is that it does not fully address the issue of one-to-one versus group leadership in an organizational setting (Northouse, 2013). Adjusting leadership style to each employee might be dangerous as employees expect leaders to be consistent. To avoid this problem a specific leadership style (directing, coaching, supporting or delegating) is always applied at the team level and never per individual. When the development level of a single team member is not aligned with the rest of the group, as software architects, we take team actions that, by leveraging on the company’s values like friendship and united individuals, trigger knowledge sharing and mutual help inside that specific group. This can be a group training session or simply suggest working on a task in pairs. This approach activates motivators like the sense of responsibility, in this case between team members, and the sense of team achievement.

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Written by Claudio Maccari . Passionate developer and former windsurfer. You can read more about me here