Posture – a particular way of dealing with or considering something; an approach or attitude
As you lead into a particular context you will want to be self-aware of your leadership posture in the context – how you will act in this situation.
There are two general types of leadership postures that you can adopt – directive or supportive. Both are appropriate with neither being better or more valuable. The context you are leading in will determine which of the two general postures is most appropriate for the situation.
The directive posture is often the one seen as the ‘typical’ leadership style. It is where the leader is giving direction, making decisions, and assigning responsibilities. They are out in front, setting the pace, and visibly rallying the people towards the goal.
The directive posture is needed when one is leading an inexperienced team who are unclear on what to do or how to do it. This leadership posture is also necessary in a crisis environment. You don’t want the ER doctor leading a brainstorm session with his staff when the patient is bleeding out from gunshot wounds!
The supportive posture is fitting when leading in a context where the team is more experienced. They know what to do and how to do it; now they need to know specifically from you what their contribution will be to the whole team effort. After delegating responsibilities, you then come alongside and help them solve problems, motivate and encourage them, all the time letting them bear the weight of their responsibility.
If a leader assumes a directive posture with a highly experienced team he or she will stifle initiative, for they soon realize that there is little room for independent action. Instead of feeling empowered, they will feel controlled and micro-managed. If leading a team of volunteers, they will choose to ‘vote with their feet’ and leave your leadership. Leaders want to be empowered, not controlled.
The key is knowing which posture to adopt when. We all have a natural, default posture. But, if we only do what comes naturally or easy for us, we will miss bringing our best to those we lead. Pray for discernment and self-awareness on which posture you need to assume and how to deliver it well.
How’s your posture?