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Tales from the Woods - Leadership Styles

It was Winter. Pooh found himself sitting in a field just outside the forest. He had been complaining to Owl that he was having trouble thinking. Owl had said that sometimes you could not see the wood for the trees. Pooh wasn’t too sure about that. There was this one time when he could not see the wood for the bees – that particular time had involved honey, a stick and a big mistake. Owl had explained that Pooh needed to put some distance between him and the problem. The field seemed to be about the right distance; although Pooh had a sneaking feeling that he had brought the problem with him.


The problem that Pooh was trying to solve was ‘what makes a great boss?’ When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, nearly everybody is your boss especially if there is stuff to be done. Pooh started to thinks of all those Woodland creatures who had, at some time or another, been in charge.


Tigger. They say that the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound, that is why people often look bright until you hear them speak. Tigger bounces around from idea to idea (always someone else's idea and usually the last one he has heard). He gives the impression of someone who is always busy, always on the move and someone who is clearly very important. However, when you looked really close at what he is doing, the answer was not very much. 

Pooh had worked for Tigger in the past and it often made his head hurt because he had to do a lot of guessing. Pooh was not good at guessing, there was something about not having sufficient information which made him uneasy. Pooh realised he needed a boss who actually did work and didn’t need Pooh to guess a lot.


Eeyore. Some people have a negative personality; Eeyore’s personality was so negative that sometimes when he walked into a room you thought somebody had left. Eeyore was hard work. Pooh like to talk, about anything and everything, but Eeyore found it hard to relate to people. However, Eeyore was good with numbers. He said he could make numbers talk and that they had never let him down. Pooh hoped they would be very happy together. Pooh realised he needed a boss whom he could talk to, about stuff other than numbers, and who understood him.


Rabbit. Rabbit had brain. He was, as someone once explained to Pooh, an Akademik. Rabbit liked to think and think about things. He was very good at Theory, Pooh was very good at Real. Sometimes they didn’t see eye to eye and it had nothing to do with Pooh being a lot taller. The good thing about Rabbit was you could talk and talk and talk. Pooh found that just talking and not resolving also made his brain hurt almost as much as not talking. Pooh realised that he needed a boss who could make decisions.


Squirrel. Sid the Squirrel was a very good climber. He loved to climb and every job he does allows Squirrel to climb and climb. The problem with climbing up is it often relies on stepping on. Sid was very focused on looking upwards which meant he often didn’t see what was downwards which is where most of the ‘stepping on’ happened. Pooh realised that he needed a boss who would look after his team. Pooh was also desperate to make some pun about Squirrel and his nuts but that would have to wait.


Christopher Robin walked into the field and sat next to Pooh. “What are you doing Pooh?” He asked. Pooh told him all about the different animals he had worked for. Christopher Robin sat and listened. “Maybe sometimes you have to meet your boss halfway and not be so needy,” said Christopher Robin, “It’s not all about you.”

Pooh thought about it for a while, Christopher Robin had a way of putting things so that Pooh understood. The first flakes of snow started to fall and Pooh let out a small shiver. Christopher Robin put his coat on Pooh’s shoulders and brushed the icy flakes off Pooh’s nose. He picked Pooh up and started to walk back to the forest. “Let’s get you home.” he said.


“Do you think there is such a thing as a perfect boss?” asked Pooh.


“I’m not sure there is.” replied Christopher Robin.


What is your leadership style? WISE Leadership recognises that one size does not fit all. Sometimes it is beholden on the leader to adapt to the needs of the follower and the situation. As an ex-military leader, I was taught that there would be times when the need of the task would outweigh the needs of the individual and the team. Likewise, the needs of an individual and the team can be more important than what you are trying to achieve. Situational leadership is a leadership style that has been developed and studied by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey. With situational leadership, it is up to the leader to change their style, not the follower to adapt to the leader’s style. In situational leadership, the style may change continually to meet the needs of others in the organization based on the situation.

Situational Leadership is difficult. We all have our preferred styles and changing can be challenging. Although developed in the 1960s, situational leadership is particularly relevant in these fast-paced and volatile times. It focuses on the leader’s ability to adapt and be reactive – it definitely is not a static style. The leader must be able to adapt to the circumstances and, perhaps more importantly, to the people we live and work with every day. Given the breadth of the situational approach, it is applicable in almost any type of organisation, at any level, for nearly all types of tasks. It is an encompassing model with a wide range of applications.

#Leadership #WISE

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