You’ve got to know when to hold’ em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run” – Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

Sometimes it seems impossible for a team leader to decide whether to be a “tough guy” or an easygoing boss. It can be tough to figure out whether to keep a team in sight and dictate how to do assigned tasks, or whether to let team members handle their work without direct supervision. If only team leaders could get sage, concrete leadership advice from a wiser, older version of themselves on how to pull a team together and get them to perform! Oh wait – you’ve got me, and I have the answers.

The truth is, as a leader, you will probably have to be both the tough boss, laying down the rules, and the easygoing pal-type boss who interferes less with the team. Your leadership style changes depending on where the team’s cohesion lies.

team leadership - personalitiesIn my book, “One Team One Dream,” I lay out the 4 phases of team matriculation: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Forming, of course, happens when there’s a personnel or significant process change among the team – the previous makeup breaks apart and must be re-formed with the new team members or realign to the new process. 

That means there will be a bit of Storming – some stress and trouble as everyone gets used to the new way of doing things and new personalities – before Norming occurs and everyone settles in and starts Performing.

Your responsibility is to lead the team through that process – even when a small change occurs. And, like the titular character in Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler,” it’s all about knowing when to be a certain type of boss:

When to Hold ‘Em – At the forming stage, you’ll need to exert more control over team activities and responsibilities. This is where Authoritative leadership is most needed. You set the rules and procedures, and make sure they’re followed. You spend a lot more time working directly with the team so they quickly learn what is expected of them and how to accomplish their assignments.

When to Fold ‘Em – Once the team is familiar with the new rules and getting to know each other, Participative leadership eases you away from dictating how things are done, while remaining somewhat hands-on.

When to Walk Away – This is the least-involved leadership style, what I call Free Reign. A team that is fully comfortable with each other and with achieving the goals in front of them can usually tick along without the need for hands-on supervision by the team leader. At this point, problems are brought to you and you can work with the entire team to solve them.

Adjust your leadership according to the stage of matriculation your team is at, and you’ll never need to run!

One Team, One DreamExcerpted from One Team, One Dream by Gregg Gregory

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