An effective leader is able to provide details of the what, where, when and whys involved for any current or future change. In some instances, even providing the how is necessary. One way to do this is to adopt a situational leadership approach. The principle of this theory is that the most effective leaders have the ability to adjust their style to fit the developmental needs of others. For example, if your subordinates appear unmotivated or unknowledgeable about a particular assignment, you manage closer. If they are highly skilled and proficient then you manage less often. Simple, right?

When your organization is going through a transition, or change, more management is needed. Many leaders dramatically underestimate just how much more, because they review the situation in terms of “How much management would I want in this situation?”, not, “How much does our average employee need?”. Change is now a norm within organizations and employees have become accustomed to adjusting to change; however that does not imply that the change process will run smoothly that it has in the past. Leading through transitions requires increased (more frequent? shorter?) communication, more direction and continuous support. Not every employee will progress through the change at the same rate nor will they require the same style of leadership. Employees may be resistant and believe, or verbally state “that will never work.” A leader must help shift the employee mindset from problem-focused to solution-focused. It is your job to help your employees see it that way.

Three essential steps to effectively leading through transitions:

  1. Over Communicate—employees want to be a part of the process. The more involved they feel, the less resistant they are likely to be. Less ambiguity equals greater understanding & acceptance.
  2. Get Personal—get to know your employees, if you haven’t already. You will be much more successful at adjusting your style and helping to meet their needs.
  3. Describe the Future—they may not be able to clearly see or understand the vision that you have for the transition. It is in human nature to be apprehensive about change, but by describing the organizational “road map”, you will increase understanding and optimism about the change.

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders can no longer lead solely based on positional power.”

– Ken Blanchard, theorist behind the Situational Leadership Theory


Additional Readings: