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June 2017

"Beware the Leadership Habit!"

Here we are midyear again. Yes, summer brings a sense of fun in the sun, a respite from the rush and run, or maybe a time to reflect on what has been achieved in the past six months. Shall we continue with our status quo practice processes and style or do we accept the challenge and make a change as we enter the remaining half of 2017? Today we focus our attention on the most important process of practicing architecture, engineering, landscape architecture...leadership communications. Guest author Joy Humbarger, PCC, ELI-MP, CDLS, Maximize Your Leadership, invites us to identify with leadership communication styles that "may or may not be effective for the situation or individual." You decide.

You're a leader. You're influencing and impacting others constantly...employees, coworkers, clients, even family and friends.

It's easy to get focused on the daily tasks like decisions, budgets, timelines, and project details. Habits of communication develop quickly and we default to a particular style of leadership communication that may or may not be effective for the situation or individual. We forget - or don't even recognize - that our approach with others can positively or negatively impact them and ourselves.

You can make a conscious decision.

Here are six leadership styles identified by Daniel Goleman's research. Which one is best for your particular communication engagement?

Visionary: Have the circumstances changed? Does the team need a new vision? Are they floundering in the minutia? Use this entrepreneurial style enthusiastically to inspire everyone to move toward a common vision. Put the focus on the end goals. Then, give individuals freedom to reach those goals in their own way. Beware - this style doesn't work when the team are all experts who know more than the leader.

Pacesetter: Is your team already motivated and skilled? Use this style for short periods of time to get quick results. Model for them what you expect. Beware - using this style can be overwhelming for your team members and crush innovation.

Commander: Is there a crisis within the company or an actual emergency such as a fire or tornado? Do you have a problem teammate who has not responded to other styles of leadership? Use this style only when it's necessary to tell people exactly what to do and demand immediate compliance. Beware - this style can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

Participative: Does your team need to buy into or have ownership of a decision, goal or plan? Build consensus with this approach, or generate new ideas from teammates or employees. Beware - this is not the best choice for an emergency or time-crunch situation. To be effective, those who are being asked for input should have enough information to provide sufficient guidance to the leader. Be clear about how the input will be used: as the final decision, as a guide for the decision, or as information for further exploration.

Affiliative: Has there been a lot of stress or trauma? Does the team need to rebuild trust? Use this style to foster emotional bonds and create a feeling of belonging. Beware - this style focuses solely on praise and nurturing and can foster mediocre performance and lack of direction.

Coach: Do you want to develop your people for the future? Do you want to build on people's strengths and increase the bottom line at the same time? This approach helps individuals build lasting personal strengths that make the team and the organization successful overall. For best results, use this approach majority of the time. Beware - this style is least effective if the leader lacks proficiency and slips into the affiliative style.

Don't default to a leadership habit. Apply your approach to the situation, and build long-term leadership success.

Joy clearly defines effective leadership communication styles for your consideration and implementation. When will you decide to make a positive change to your leadership communication style? Yes, we often fall into behavioral habits by default including professional credentials management methods that are ineffective and may cause serious practice management risks. How can we help? Your practice will operate more efficiently with professional credentials management services. Visit for more information.

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