Are consultative leaders really leading?

13th May 2015

Leadership comes in many forms and leadership communications comes in many styles. Some leaders ‘tell’ as their primary leadership style, others ‘sell’ their ideas, and some will ‘test’ ideas in order to gain input and buy-in.

Over the 16 years of our supporting clients we are discovering a new breed of leaders who understand that consultation with stakeholders as part of idea generation, strategy creation and innovation gets them strong results.

To ‘consult’ as a leader means that leadership sees the benefit of shared knowledge, acknowledges that they do not have all the information and data, and is open to insights from many sources and directions. ‘Consult’ as a leadership strategy engages organisational values of openness, transparency, engagement, learning, trust, truthfulness and many others. This is the leadership style of the future.

Being a consultative leader does not mean being weak or weak-kneed. It is actually a style of strength, integrity and forthrightness. And, consultative leadership includes the options of ‘tell’, ‘sell’ and ‘test’ but approaches them in new ways because those leadership styles find solidity within the consultation process. The challenges of those three styles become part and parcel within the consultation process.

In our experience, the biggest challenges of the ‘consult’ style of leadership is not in the ‘why do it’ but in the ‘how to use consultation effectively’ in any given situation. Thinking through the ‘how’ of consultation leadership is key to its success. Spending time thinking through ‘how’ greatly enhances the consultative process. “Go slow to go fast” is the true mantra of this style. Building in time to reflect is important to the process. Being able to adjust within the process as new insights emerge is also critical. While this leadership style has levels of complexity within it the results can be exquisite and elegant.

We support all types of leadership styles. To support your ‘consult’ leadership or to explore how to add ‘consult’ to your organisational process give us a shout and we’ll engage a consultative conversation to see where it takes us. Call us at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form. We’ll get right back to you.