Anybody who’s been in a leadership role can relate to the uneasy feeling I’m about to describe.

Your team is at a crossroads and you need to set a new direction. Everybody’s staring at you wondering, “What’s the plan?” And it suddenly dawns on you that the stakes are high and you’d darn well better choose the RIGHT goal. Because if you don’t, all the resources that are accountable to you will be allocated to activities that aren’t helping, and may even be hurting, the company. That will be very bad for your management career.

We’ve just described a situation that requires the Goal-Setting Managerial Style (some call it the “Authoritative” style). It’s arguably the most important of the six managerial styles you’ll find in most leadership models (the others are Command and Control, Relating, Coaching, Hands-On and Democratic).

To deploy the Goal-Setting Style effectively, leaders need to have the confidence that they’ve done their homework and decided on the right course of action. It could be, “We’re going to enter two new markets next year,” or “We’re going to upgrade to an enterprise HR technology solution.” These are decisions that only a leader can make, and the consequences of setting the wrong goals are huge.

Another key point: Once you’ve set the goal, make sure you let your team figure out how to achieve it (that’s called using the Democratic Style).

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