Direction and Support


What is Direction?

What exactly does it mean when we say that a leader needs to provide "Direction?" In Situational Leadership understanding what good direction is and what it is not, matters. It sounds simple. Just tell them what to do, right? Well, as any seasoned leader can tell you, just telling adults what to do only works in specific situations (like during a fire) and definitely not all the time. See some tips below to provide quality direction.

Tell them what they need to know. Adult learners must have context. Close the Knowledge Gap. They must understand the relevance to their own lives and roles. Provide detailed information here.

Tell them why it matters. Close the Importance Gap. Adult learners must understand the reason, importance, and purpose for the things they do. It is a leader's role to ensure that they have full understanding and agreement here. Ask for confirmation that they understand. Have them repeat back the key action items and timelines.

Tell them what they need to do. Close the Action Gap. Be very specific and tie clear expectations here. Expectations must include a behavioral and a result component to be effective. (e.g. This is what I expect you to do, and this is what result I expect to see.) Your verbiage can certainly be a lot nicer than that, but the message needs to be the same.

What is “Support?”

People will struggle. It is a fact and you, as their leader, must plan for it. In IMBAR we talk a lot about Mindset which is how people think and feel about something. Preparing how you will react ahead of time gives you the emotional and intellectual ability to be able to help them through their journey as they learn new tasks. Support comes in many layers and many levels. It needs to be genuine and come from a place where you truly desire to help them become confident and committed in their roles. Be yourself, don't try to fake this. Follow the five tips below to help prepare for and support them during their inevitable stumbles.

Plan time for them. New learners need and deserve a little more attention. In fact, everyone needs some attention. As part of your Leadership Rhythm, Schedule regular touch bases to check in on their progress, hear their concerns and demonstrate your willingness to help them succeed.

Separate emotion from intellect. When people stumble, their reaction typically follows an emotional rollercoaster. This means that in these situations, they will begin to feel more than think and the leader's role is to help navigate this to help them learn from the experience. If they are emotional, give them time. Emotions are valuable and shouldn't be discounted or ignored. Once they settle down, begin asking questions to facilitate learning.

Ask vs. tell. When you jump in right away with a solution, your learner's growth opportunity will minimize. If you have provided the correct answers during training, ask them to revisit it. If it is a new situation, ask how they think they should respond. By asking versus telling, you stretch their minds, intellect and imaginations. With self-discovery, learning will stick.

Ask what you can do. Before offering advice or instructions, ask what you can do. Be a servant leader. You may find that what they need may be quite different than what you think they need. Asking this will make them stop and think, and possibly even discover a solution on their own.

Educate them. At this point, tell them what to do. But...do so in a way that it becomes a teachable point of view. Explain the steps but ask them why those steps are correct. Get them thinking. Remember, a major part of your role is to be a teacher, so don't let any teachable moment pass you by.

Situational Leadership, Gapology, and IMBAR are all about providing varying levels of direction and support, in the right manner, at the right time, for the right situation.

Have a fantastic week, we’ll talk to you soon.

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