Lead people the best way for them!

I had a conversation with a client the other day about how they were dealing with different personalities in their business. I knew it was one of those chats where I had to get a specific message across.

Thinking about it afterwards reminded me of how I like to be communicated with. This is at times different to how others like to be treated. I’m the kind of person who likes the straight-shooting approach. Coming originally from New Zealand where there are fewer people and the “Fishpond” is much smaller, I’ve grown up with the greater tendency over there to be told exactly what is needed in black & white.

When I’m being mentored or led by someone else, what works is for me to be told what the specific tasks are and results needed. Then, if you leave me to my own devices, I’ll do the research, set up the plan and roll it out with only a small amount of help or encouragement. Keeping an eye on me and/or having a coffee with me is useful at times, more for the social and innovative ideas that come from it than for any need for “help”.

This person I was speaking with was not like that at all. They needed to be spoken to with gentle gloves and much encouragement. It was one of those conversations where I needed to be very supportive and enabling.

It really got me thinking about a model I have used personally for many years. It is a simple reminder to us all to think about what the other person needs from us prior to rushing in and the telling them what we want or must have.

The model is the Situational Leadership Model. Please note I’m not saying you should only ever communicate with people using one of the four steps outlined below. However, personally I’ve found them to be a real help when thinking through tough conversations where results need to occur in short timeframes.

This model looks at the world of leadership inside of 4 simple styles as follows:

Style 1 – Directing

The person leading provides a specific direction & closely monitors task accomplishment.

Style 2 – Coaching

The leader makes sure they direct & closely monitor things, but also explains decisions, elicits suggestions, and provides support where needed.

Style 3 – Supporting

The leader uses a facilitative & supportive approach toward the achievement of tasks using the shared-responsibility decision-making principle.

Style 4 – Delegating

The leader turns over the responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to the person and/or team in question.

Here’s a short presentation by Ken & Scott Blanchard about how using Situational Leadership II can make a huge difference to the conversations you have with your people. If you get your leadership working with their direct reports in a powerful way that encourages talent-management processes and continuously increases performance, then you tend to keep your people for longer periods.


Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Have a think about your own business unit and or company. Do you use a variety of styles when working with your people, or just one over and over? Who are the people you find tougher to work with and why do you think this is? How flexible are you with regard to communicating and getting results in your own teams? Consider changing your leadership style when you are working with certain team members.

Technology Rollouts & Performance

Good technology rollouts really count. Many people I have worked with over the past few years often face the tough experience of having to make decisions around new technology that will fundamentally affect business results. In the past 18 months, I have noticed many clients have been pushed into situations where things must be upgraded urgently (due often to a merger).

Often this technology is something like a new platform, a best-of-class project management system or a set of core capabilities the business has never had. At times, these needs arise from a system that was put into the business 20 years ago and since then the IT team have been building bolt-on solutions. Eventually it reaches the point where there are so many workarounds for the users that everyone just considers the system a massive handbrake. Organisational change has to occur, as the focus for increased performance is greater than ever.

A good example of this kind of new technology is Oracle’s Seibel CRM product. AFG Group, one of Australia’s largest brokers, used this product with great success. They use it to source products, lodge applications, generate leads & manage clients, all from a single point of entry. Check out the video below – at 3 mins 9 secs, it shows how they are now using this technology to manage their teams and other overseas business development activities. This project has enabled AFG to stay ahead of the game in an extremely tough market.

The general solution is to spend up to hundreds of millions of dollars on new technology to consolidate workflows, reduce time taken to get information, or find the right information etc.

What often actually happens though is this:

  • The project goes way over time and budget and the change management process fails
  • Only specific users get the new technology right and they were the high performers anyway
  • The strategic planning done prior to implementation was nowhere near robust enough & so major gaps appear with the implementation & rollout to users
  • The final product offers only 60% of the capability promised and the system workarounds continue

If these were the only blocks faced after implementation, funnily enough the situation would actually not be too much worse. The problem is that this is only the start. What then seems to happen is that while the implementation occurs, sales and/or service levels drop significantly and sales managers start to get punished for their lack of results.

Many users get disillusioned and they start to either leave or look seriously for jobs in competing businesses in the same vertical. This causes increases in staff turnover and a need to then recruit more people at a time when training and reducing the time to competency for new team members is not the highest priority. Finishing the implementation and knowing the systems core capabilities actually collect “all” of the data accurately and can be used to get results is the priority.

So what’€™s the answer? Consider the following:

  • Who is on the rollout project team and why are they there?
  • Who is missing that should be there? E.g. possible managers of users who know what functions have to keep on going not matter what
  • Have you looked at who your absolute best talent is and how they can add value to the project?
  • What kind of mini pilots have you or are you intending to run prior to getting serious about the rollout?
  • If you have gathered groups of high performers to do the testing, have you then ensured these people are trained in knowledge-transfer and work-place training techniques to get your population back to its core results capability ASAP? How is this behaviour change actually going to occur on the ground?
  • What kind of knowledge-capture processes do you have around the more “€œtacit”€ or informal smarts the high performers have? How do these apply in the “€œNew”€ technology platform or world? How are these to be transferred? How is your talent management process taking this into account?

Making sure you have covered off the above at the very least will enable you to keep leveraging your best people to transfer their results across populations. Sometimes you may need to bring in technology providers you have never thought of prior to the project. In fact, this might not become apparent in any of the project design phases and might only be discovered during implementation.

The general solution is to spend up to hundreds of millions of dollars on new technology to consolidate workflows, reduce time taken to get information, or find the right information etc.

What often actually happens though is this:

  • The project goes way over time and budget and the change management process fails
  • Only specific users get the new technology right and they were the high performers anyway
  • The strategic planning done prior to implementation was nowhere near robust enough & so major gaps appear with the implementation & rollout to users
  • The final product offers only 60% of the capability promised and the system workarounds continue

If these were the only blocks faced after implementation, funnily enough the situation would actually not be too much worse. The problem is that this is only the start. What then seems to happen is that while the implementation occurs, team performance levels drop significantly and project managers start to get punished for their lack of results.

Many users get disillusioned and they start to either leave or look seriously for jobs in competing businesses in the same vertical. This causes increases in staff turnover and a need to then recruit more people at a time when training and reducing the time to competency for new team members is not the highest priority. Finishing the implementation and knowing the systems core capabilities in order to actually collect “all” of the data accurately often is the priority.

So what’€™s the answer? Consider the following:

  • Who is on the rollout project team and why are they there?
  • Who is missing that should be there? E.g. possible managers of users who know what functions have to keep on going not matter what
  • Have you looked at who your absolute best talent is and how they can add value to the project?
  • What kind of mini pilots have you or are you intending to run prior to getting serious about the rollout?
  • If you have gathered groups of high performers to do the testing, have you then ensured these people are trained in knowledge-transfer and work-place training techniques to get your population back to its core results capability ASAP? How is this behaviour change actually going to occur on the ground?
  • What kind of knowledge-capture processes do you have around the more “€œtacit”€ or informal smarts the high performers have? How do these apply in the “New”€ technology platform or world? How are these to be transferred? How is your talent management process taking this into account?

Making sure you have covered off the above at the very least will enable you to keep leveraging your best people to transfer their results across populations. Sometimes you may need to bring in technology providers you have never thought of prior to the project. In fact, this might not become apparent in any of the project design phases and might only be discovered during implementation.

The general solution is to spend up to hundreds of millions of dollars on new technology to consolidate workflows, reduce time taken to get information, or find the right information etc.