Work environments and situations are dynamic. The workload, team members, customers and resources are constantly changing, so your leadership and management style must adapt accordingly.

Leadership and management are two different animals. Management is about coping with complexity, managing people and tasks, whereas leadership is about coping with change and ensuring the team takes collective action towards achieving common goals.

The most successful leaders adapt easily to changing environments and use the right approach for the right situation. Poor leaders do the opposite and fail to make appropriate adjustments in dynamic situations resulting in disarray and confusion. Clearly articulating the mission intent and allowing the team to execute is critical. Though they must be well-equipped and properly motivated to navigate significant change. 

In a recent conversation I had with Lisa Pierce, a consultant at HR Consultants, Inc., she said, "In today's multi-generational workforce, motivating employees encompasses more than monetary rewards because of their diverse needs. Though compensation and benefits are often a large part of an employee's interest in a position, an organization must also consider factors that may be of value to their employees, such as a healthy work-life balance, the opportunity for career advancement within the organization, and the ability to perform meaningful or challenging work. These are more important that ever during times of change."

As a former Navy SEAL turned serial entrepreneur, I have certainly been in my fair share of stressful scenarios that have required staying calm under pressure, effective communication and thoughtful decision-making. Developing an adaptive leadership style doesn't happen overnight. Learning from mistakes, studying respected mentors and getting feedback from the team are an imperative part of the growing process for leaders.

It can often be helpful to first detail the behaviors to avoid. Most of which we have all been guilty of at some point or another.

Authoritarian Leadership

This style of leadership is a dying breed and is rarely effective, especially if the leader wishes to inspire others to achieve goals beyond what they think they can. Authoritarian leadership does not result in delivering effective feedback to the team, points out weaknesses instead of strengths, promotes distrust and fails to align the team. Authoritarian leaders might be feared but they are definitely not respected. And most importantly, this style of leadership doesn't work with today's new generations in the workplace. Yes, I am referring to millennials.

Hands-off Leadership

This is even less effective than authoritarian leadership because nothing gets done. The leader is aloof, unavailable, lacks passion or all of the above. They fail to articulate a clear mission and vision, don't provide direction and fail to give the team feedback. Hands-off leadership isn't leadership at all, just someone at the top with a title.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leaders know how to get results in an ever-changing environment. They read the terrain, are well-prepared and expect plans to change. One of my favorite quotes that applies to both business and combat by a German Field Marshall from the 1800's is "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." Adaptive leaders know this and always have contingency plans. You can learn more about adaptive leadership by downloading my new free Ebooks here.

Leaders exhibiting an adaptive style are performance motivated, self-aware and generally have high levels of emotional intelligence. They assign the right tasks to the right people provide resources for professional development. And while they do take decisive action they rarely do so in a reactive manner without considering all possible outcomes.

Adaptive leaders get better results because they build dynamic teams that embrace change and channel fear into positive outcomes.

Published on: Oct 24, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.