Few of you will need convincing that the right leader can mean the difference between success and failure in your business. No matter how talented the individual team members are, few teams will succeed unless they have a strong leader who can motivate the team and bring them together as a cohesive, synergistic unit, working in pursuit of a common goal or objective.
With the help of great leaders, your teams, department, business units and company can achieve great things. This is why organizations are placing so much emphasis on finding people with the right leadership skills for their business.
But, even with the best intentions it can be hard to know which potential managerial candidates are right for your business – and below I have set out two of the most crucial considerations to help you choose the right leader for your business.
1. Do they know how to build balanced, effective teams?
Belbins Team role theory suggests that the most effective teams have a balance of personalities reflecting the following 9 Traits: Plants (innovators), Resource Investigator, Coordinator, Shaper, Implementer, Finisher and Specialist. The key points are that the exact balance of the personalities can vary according to the type of task that is required; for example, a team that was focused intensely on straight forward, simple tasks might have less need for ‘plants’, yet a start up team, working with minimal resources against established competition, might need more innovators and plants.
So, top leadership candidates should be able to talk to you, in convincing detail, about the theory and approaches they use to build effective cohesive teams. They might relay some Belbin theory, and that’s fine; but, you’d really want them to be able to show how they applied Belbin team theory successfully in several demanding situations.
Alternately, they may have their own philosophy and method for team building. Whatever it is, they should be able to rationalize and show how they have used it successfully in a range of situations, e.g. growth, turnaround, change etc…
2. Do they have a flexible leadership style?
In a recent HBR white paper, titled ‘Leadership That Get’s Results‘, they suggest that the best leaders have a flexible leader style, that is, they are skilled in several different types of leadership style and they can switch between different leadership styles to suit the situation. They cited six main types of leadership styles, which were: Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pace setting and Coaching and they argued how different styles were more effective in certain situations. For example, a coercive style, a kind of, “Do What I Say”, approach is well suited to turnaround or distressed situations or when dealing with problem staff, but it will ordinarily inhibit flexibility and motivation. Whereas an authoritative, “come with me” approach where team members are empowered to meet broad goals in their own way is helpful when a business is adrift but does not work so well if the team members have more expertise/experience than the team leader.
When choosing leaders it makes sense to choose those who can demonstrate the most leadership style flexibility as they are likely to be the most effective leaders in the long term.
Of course, there are many things to consider when choosing leaders for your business, but from the research that I have looked at, these appeared to be two of the most important factors to take into account. Good luck with your next leadership hiring initiative.