Adapting your leadership to the situation starts by first understanding the leadership models available to you. Gartner recognizes five leadership “styles” CIOs can adopt depending on the desired outcome of the digital project and the makeup of the digital team.
Define the goals of a project and provide initial guidance on the approach a team should take. Once the effort is underway, however, the commander leaves execution of the project and day-to-day decisions to the team. This approach works best for exploratory projects run by teams composed of experienced digital professionals accustomed to self-direction.
Provide a framework for what needs to get done and offer inspiration, creative support and brainstorming opportunities to the team. Rewards go to those members with the most innovative ideas and who take creative risks. The catalyst type works best for entrepreneurial or innovative teams working on new digital product designs.
Read more: 5 Leadership Styles for Digital Business [Infographic]
Provide day-to-day direction to monitor team progress on digital projects and validate outputs at each stage. Coaches give individual team members advice on ways to improve. Likewise, they set individual and team performance goals. The coach type works best with midcareer professionals focused on converting new designs into deployable digital products.
Take an operational role within the team to serve as an ever-present in-team resource and to model practices the team should adopt. This approach works best with inexperienced teams working on scaling or operationalizing an existing, small-scale digital initiative.
Have vast experience with digital projects in a range of contexts. Their approach is to offer guidance, advice and context at various stages of the project, but leave the decision making to the team members. Consultants are particularly effective for midcareer professionals with solid technical skills working on efforts to improve and revise existing digital initiatives.
To become more adaptive, first review the leadership styles described to see which one best captures the approach that comes most naturally to you. Seek feedback from employees to validate your self-assessment. Then, look at the other approaches to identify the skills and instincts you need to develop.