Recently, a friend was telling me about his experience leading a team of woofers, an acronym taken from the term, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms(WWOOF). These are people who are somewhat nomadic and travel across the state, country and the world working temporarily on organic farms. The pay consists basically of food, shelter and an environmentally friendly culture within which to work.
Because of the nature of the work and the adventurous nature of the woofers, turnover was naturally somewhat high. This, not because the work was hard, environment was bad or the leadership poor. In fact, it was quite the opposite, even though some of the tasks were harder than the others and required working outside and getting sweaty. This was more than offset by the beautiful setting, the organic meals and how the somewhat transient team was led by my friend.
Work had come to a pause for the season and the last of the woofers had just moved on. My friend expressed how relieved he was not to be leading the woofers for a few months. He loved each one who had come to work, but he recognized he had earned his time for retreat and renewal, and taking off the mantle of leadership for awhile felt good.
Having kept up with him over the past couple of years, I shared how impressed I was with his situational leadership abilities. To this, he gave me a quizzical look. Even though situational leadership was innate to him and he used it daily, he had not given the technique conscious thought in many years. This sparked me to go back to my notes from the 1980’s to review Paul Hersey’s and Ken Blanchard’s theory on Situational Leadership.
In short, Situational Leadership is based on the theory that the best leaders vary their leadership style to fit the competence and commitment of the person or team being led, and there are sound principles and techniques that are well worth considering. This video is an excellent introduction:
Written by author, coach and mentor: Clay Boykin