Leadership Styles – the joys of participative leadership?

English: Dark forest track

Everyone loves participative leadership.  Or do they? Usually, most of us would prefer to follow a leader who took our views into account.  Most of us find it easier to commit to something if we have had an opportunity to have our say and to be involved in making important decisions that affect us.

Generally, when a number of people contribute to a decision, that decision gains in quality and there is a better result.

Let us imagine we are walking in a forest with a group of friends.  Suddenly our little path comes out into clearing and there is a fork.  The path on the left disappears off into the trees and so does the one on the right. Sadly, the map we’ve been following is out of date and we can’t even see a clearing.  Which way do we go?

It is getting dark.  A chilly wind is getting up and all we want is to be at home again sitting in front of the fire with a warm drink.  So we argue a bit and realise we are lost – we don’t know north from south.  Then John, who hasn’t said much, reminds us that in the northern hemisphere moss grows more often on the north side of trees. We have lots of trees to check and there we are – we take the left fork.  We’re on our way – home again in half an hour – just as the rain starts!

Well, decisions in organizations can be like that! Sometimes, you, the leader, aren’t really sure you know the best way forward.  You haven’t lost your way exactly but you’d like more information before you make that key decision. Your team would love the opportunity to contribute.  If quiet John in the back office has enough confidence in you he might speak up!  He might just know something you don’t about a new technology or the needs of a particular customer. That information could be invaluable.

Without participative leadership, John would not have opened his mouth. And he certainly wouldn’t have committed to all those late nights working on that new technology to make it work for you and the team.

But, at the end of the day, of course, you are the leader!  What happens when a very urgent or very unpalatable decision has to be made?  Does participative leadership work then?  Or does it have its limits?  I’d love to hear your views

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change. She offers coaching by phone and Skype as well as face to face, particularly for those wanting to increase their confidence. If you would like to know more you can contact Wendy at wendymason@confidencecoach.me  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114.  Her Skype ID is wendymason14.
  • Leadership styles – are you the leader for all seasons? (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leadership, the Lone Worker and Getting Things Done (wisewolftalking.com)
  • 6 Tips for Confident Networking (leavingthepublicsector.net)

Three Steps to Resolve Conflict as a Leader

Today we have a guest post from Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving and movie related topics.

I believe her very sensible advice will be useful to all leaders and managers.

Three  Steps to Resolve Conflict as a Leader

As a leader, not only will you have to make sure that everyone stays on task and that all business matters are taken care of, but if there is conflict between two subordinates, know that one (or both) people are going to come to you asking for help to resolve the issue. If/when this occurs, you need to know how to approach and deal with this delicate matter the correct way. Below are a few tips that can help you get the ball rolling.

1. First, Meet with Each Party Individually

It’s important that you hear each side of the story before coming to  any conclusions. Get all the facts. You want to know what/who caused the problem. Ask each employee if they have any documented evidence or dates of when the incident(s) occurred. Take the time to piece the story together while also taking note of how each story differs from the other. While speaking with each individual, you want to make sure that you maintain a cordial and objective tone. You don’t want someone thinking that you favor one story over the other but you don’t want them thinking you’re against them either. Do your best to keep your tone neutral. The key here is to listen.

2. Meet with both parties together

After you have a better grasp of what’s going on and you’ve drawn your own conclusions about what the root of the problem really is (and come up with a possible solution), it’s time to meet with both parties at the same time. While still trying to maintain a cordial and unbiased/objective tone, reiterate to them what you think the real issue is according to your own understanding. Ask them if it’s correct. At this time give your employees a chance to state their version briefly if they feel the need to change some details. Listen to what each person has to say, but make sure to pay attention to body language as well. Let each person propose their own solutions but show that you expect them to reach agreement. If the conflict still can’t be resolved, suggest your own approach. Then ask the both parties which solution they’d prefer. Whatever you do, make sure that none of you leave without some sort of resolution.

3. Document Everything

Lastly, you want to make sure that you have a record of the finalized resolution to the conflict. Type out the agreement! Have both parties sign it and make them copies for their own records. Make sure that you give the original copy to the Human Resources Department so that if the same issue occurs again, you’ll have a record of what was agreed. Whoever is in breach of the agreement at a later date may have to suffer some serious career consequences!

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @gmail.com. 

Leadership styles – are you the leader for all seasons?

A bonfire lit the sky of Babil Province, as no...

The post that gets the greatest number of visits on this blog is a very short piece I wrote a while ago on different leadership styles – here is the link. I know a picture is worth a thousand words but its success still staggers me – every day it get more hits!

Now leaders, being people, come in all shapes, sizes and personality types and thank goodness for it.

The secret of being a good leader is the ability to be flexible.  Whatever your natural style, If you can adapt that style to meet the needs of the times and your situation, well, in my book, you will be doing OK. And I believe you may be quite unusual.

But, if you are prepared and able to flex, you still need to be able to recognize when a different style is required. For example, a participative leadership style is great in gaining consensus, engagement and a commitment to quality.  But in a conflict situation where survival depends upon making a quick decision, it may have its limitations and could be potentially disastrous

There may be limits for many of us in how far, and for how long, we can adapt from what is our natural style.

It really helps if we understand our natural style and if we can be honest with ourselves about how far we are able to change.  Under stress and over time we tend to revert to what is natural for us.

An action-orientated leader may be great at saving an organization, bringing it out of inertia and building up motivation and morale, short-term.   But that same action-orientated leader may not be the person to develop a vision for the organization long-term.

If you can flex long enough to meet the need, that is great!  If you can’t, and you know it, then have the courage and honesty to admit the problem and put energy into finding someone who can.

So where do you start to become this paragon of leaders who can change styles as required?  Well, start by understanding you.

There are various leadership tests that you can find easily on-line (such as, Myers Briggs) and some of them are free.  Do your homework – find out as much as you can about your own and different leadership styles on this and other websites.

Then start to observe yourself and your organization.  If you look and listen to your people you’ll soon know if your leadership style is right for the times! But be aware, this may mean you have some difficult choices to make. That depends, of course, on how just how good you want to be as a leader!

Wendy Mason is a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence. If you would like to work on developing your leadership ability or your own confidence, Wendy would happy to work with you.  Her Learn to Be Confident Program is at this link. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@confidencecoach.me  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Preparing women for leadership!

In my time I’ve read countless books telling me how to be a better leader and how to be a better manager.  I’ve spent many, many hours in debate with others about women as leaders and managers.

20 years ago when it was still socially acceptable to proclaim that the place for women was firmly tied to the kitchen sink, there were some very interesting views expressed on the subject by both my male and female colleagues.

Now, I realise my experience was exceptional.  I come from a family where it was assumed that women were natural leaders.  I can’t imagine anyone being brave enough to tell my mother she was not supposed to be at the front or that she wouldn’t know what the rest of the team should be doing!  In due course, I followed her into the nursing profession.  At that time nursing was female lead and I trained as a nurse at Royal Free Hospital in London – the first medical school to admit women.

I had left nursing and moved on into the world of the UK Civil Service, before it dawned on me that there were people around who believed that my sex should have some relationship to success in my career.

This news came as something of a shock – particularly the comments of one particular boss, who declared – “I’m not going to write you up for promotion – I like you too much and I don’t like the women who get to the top of the Civil Service”.

Then there were a number of other incidents.

For example, there was the boss who declared he was putting the guys up for promotion first because they were the bread winners in their families.  I was too, but he didn’t seem to believe that – I mean, I was a married woman, how could it be so?

Anyway, times have changed.  And I did achieve the kind of management and leadership positions I’d hoped for! I had a long and very interesting career as a public sector manager.  Although, I didn’t have many female mentors around, there were men who were prepared to share their knowledge and experience very generously.  What I didn’t have were role models for how you juggle home, commuting, work and a social life.  But I worked that through with supportive female friends going through the same experiences.

Looking back, what has that taught me about preparing women for leadership?

Well , for me, home and the early years are critical.  What do young children see at home in terms of what is expected of women?  What views are expressed of women as leaders in the family?  What experiences of leadership do we give young women as they are growing up?

It is good, for example, that press publicity is given to top women.  But that is two-edged! We need to have a care that women at the top are not regarded as notable, primarily, because of their sex.

If children grow up expecting women to be leaders, I believe there is a much greater chance that they will be!

When I was very young I firmly believed that women ruled the world or should do so! Having a young and very beautiful Queen Elizabeth II, certainly meant I saw no conflict between influence and femininity. Only now am I beginning to understand just how blessed I was.

  • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II marks 60 years on throne (thehimalayantimes.com)
  • Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years as British queen – CBS News (cbsnews.com)
  • Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee – USA TODAY (mediagallery.usatoday.com)

Job Search and Motivation – when the motivation vampire strikes!

A screenshot of the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Thou... 



At last I’ve heard from Dave.  You can find his latest news at this link and it is a sad tale.  Poor June has been in the wars and Dave has done his best to help but all isn’t well.  Apart from anything else I think the motivation vampire has struck.

It is very easy to become depressed when you have been out of work for a long time.  Your motivation seems to just drain away and you may feel you can’t be bothered any more.

You stop expecting to find the right job and begin to wonder if you will get any job at all.

You can feel depressed and hurt that you can no longer support yourself and your family financially in the way that you believe you should! You may feel you are letting people down.  This in turn can lead to stress and anxiety.

So what do you do?  First and foremost, talk to your family about what is happening and share the problems and the responsibilities with them.  I bet they don’t feel half as bad as you think and perhaps they can help share the financial load. Seek help in managing your finances if you need to and talk to your bank before you get into real financial difficulties.
As for motivation, well yes there are things that you can do to help!
  • Make sure you are working to a routine Monday to Friday. Set yourself some working hours and stick to them
  • Dedicate a space in your home to working – even if it is the dining room table make it look different during working hours.  Spend your working time there apart from lunch and coffee breaks
  • Get some time out of the house each day – go for a walk at lunch time – but get out and take some exercise
  • Revise your CV and your marketing material to show any voluntary work you have been doing
  • Do some voluntary work – it will be good for you, them and your CV
  • Set some targets for yourself in terms of networking meetings (coffee meet-ups etc), sending off CVs etc each week and stick to it
  • Share your targets with someone else and give them permission to challenge you about their achievement – they will enjoy helping you.
  • Enquire about local jobhunter clubs and meetups – here is a example if you are London UK based   London Jobhunters Meetup Group

Above all think though your options again – just like Dave you may have a “hobby” skill that could be the basis of a new business and a whole new, and better, way of life! See that old vampire off – somewhere out there is the right future for you!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence.
If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy has a Learn to Be Confident Program at this link
You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114