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Phases in the Leadership Process

Three phases of the leadership process

An organization is like a living organism, continuously developing. As a leader, how do you make sure that you’re displaying behavior that improves the health and functioning of the organism? How do you prevent having an unintended inhibitory effect on the functioning of the team? We know that the impact of the behavior of the leader is big. For example, too much of controlling and content based leadership in a context of highly skilled professionals evokes counter reactions. Often these reactions are “hidden”. Controlling leadership in a group like that stimulates adjustment behavior: saying “yes” and doing “no”, reactivity, dependance and sometimes even resistance. How can you steer such a group in the right direction without using force?

“Reading behavior” is an important element of successful leadership. This is about being able to perceive what is needed for the development of the group. In order to be able to read the group it’s important to know in which phase of development the group is. Which are these phases and what kind of behavior helps you to recognize in which phase of development a group is? The Impeccable Leadership process has three phases of development: reactive, active and proactive. Each phase of development has it’s own specific challenges. For example in a reactive phase of development the challenge is to create cooperation and connection. In order to get progress in this area you need to meet some prerequisites. See Leadership Behavior.

Brief explanation of the three phases
The initial, reactive phase is characterized by prudence. Because we don’t know what we’re up against yet, we wait to see which way the cat jumps. What kind of people am I dealing with in this team? What exactly are our goals? What’s expected of me and how do I prevent looking different? Am I even capable of delivering what’s expected of me? There’s still a distance between team members and contacts are primarily focussed on content.

The next phase of development is asking for more active behavior of the group. Active here means “speaking up”. Not doing that obstructs the functioning of the group. We do not make use of each others insights and talents. Speaking up carries the risk of “discussion” and even conflict but because of the connection that has arisen there’s more safety to let yourself be heard, which makes speaking up easier. In a team that’s noticeable because team members quicker share their opinions. Acting and thinking is still very coloured by personal views and interests though. Here we see a new challenge. In the active phase zero sum thinking is strongly into play. Either I get my way, or you do. It seems logical that this level of thinking comes with “hassle” and the danger that things stagnate. We want to work along in the team in order to be successful, but meanwhile I want to be able to go my own way too. “Us” may never make “me” suffer. This is the phase where difference show up in discussions and sometimes conflict. Although this kind of behavior is a sign of group development, the way this is dealt with is very important. If differences are not bridged and if different views and interests are not being taken seriously, they threaten to go “underground”. If my proposal is turned down and we’re going to do things in a different way than I want to, I relapse into an earlier phase of development. And now I’ll not only be reactive, but cynical too. With powerful tools and insights the Impeccable Leader learns how to deal with these challenges effectively. He’s capable of using stagnation in development as a stepping stone to success.

In the proactive phase the team members deem the interest of the whole of a higher order than the interest of the parts. And they act accordingly in a successful way. There is proactive mutual support in “delivery”. This phase is characterized by trust, creativity and commitment as a foundation for high performance. This is where the team steers. The leader finds a balance between challenging and supporting. This is where the leader is an ambassador of the team.

Each phase of development requires a different kind of leadership. In each phase of development the leader has a different role to support the group in development and getting results.

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