The leadership philosophy and concept of “time and place” is a helpful tool that can guide us in decision-making as leaders.
As good leaders, we face situations where we have to make decisions and act upon them. However, the ability to read a situation, know what to prioritize, what to ignore, and how to weigh up competing needs are skills that we need to sharpen in our personal leadership philosophy.
Let’s explore the “time and place” leadership philosophy and how it relates to adapting to different situations.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to a transformational leadership philosophy. Instead, it requires adapting to a range of factors depending on what we’re trying to achieve.
We must consider the particular context and land at a decision relevant to the situation at hand rather than a generic answer that we force to fit every situation. Failure to take the “time and place” approach can result in misreading the situation, putting people offside, or finding ourselves in situations where those we serve no longer see us as humans but as someone who either has it all together or someone who thinks they have it all together. In other words, we should look to take a more strategic leadership approach.
Many years ago, during my master’s thesis, I studied the leadership styles of three figureheads of Timor Leste, which at that time had just been recognized as an independent nation. Xanana Gusmão, José Ramos Horta, and Mari Alkatiri were the leaders I compared, and I characterised them as The Charismatic Leader, The Diplomat, and The Competent Manager.
Through my conversations with these transformational leaders and interviews with others who knew and worked with them, the idea of Situational Leadership stood out the most. It’s crucial to know ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, patterns, and when to get out of the way to achieve the bigger aim when we’re no longer the best person to lead.
Leaders who are at their best in a crisis or when they have a dragon to slay must ensure that they’re not creating the crisis or imagining the dragon just to be in their element
We must take a reflective approach to assess the needs of the situation and setting we’re leading in.
For example, I know that I love building things from nothing, kicking open doors, and opening up new territory. However, I ensure that when building something new, my key job is to make myself redundant as soon as things are stabilized. This approach allows me to hand over the reins to someone better suited to “running the reps,” building the systems, and ensuring consistency and quality.
Situational Leadership sees no single “best” style of leadership philosophy
An effective type of leadership requires adapting our style to a range of factors depending on what we’re trying to accomplish. And then having the wisdom to know when the best thing to do is get out of the way and let someone else – with a more effective leadership style for the situation – take over.
In conclusion, as leaders, we must develop the ability to read a situation, know what to prioritize, what to ignore, and how to weigh up competing needs. The “time and place” approach is a helpful tool that can guide us in decision-making as leaders. We must take a reflective approach to assess the needs of the situation and setting we’re leading in, adapt our style of leadership, and, where necessary, make ourselves redundant.