I remember taking a course developed by the Leadership Research Institute on leadership styles. The purpose of the course was to help identify the most appropriate way to interact with an employee given an understanding of an individual's:
- Ability to perform a task.
- Motivation level to perform a task.
- High ability to perform the job but low motivation to do it. Convince the employee to persevere and outline the task's importance.
- High ability to perform the job and motivated. Allow the employee to perform the task unhindered. There is no need to provide direct support or exert control.
- Not able to perform the job and not motivated either. Basically you need to tell the employee exactly what to do to complete the task and monitor his (or her) progress.
- Not able to perform the job but motivated to try. Provide support, feedback and guidance to help the employee complete the task.
Intuitively, this framework makes sense. When you understand how to perform a job well and are highly motivated to do it, you don't really appreciate someone looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do and asking for constant status updates.
The purpose of the course was to improve managing employees, however, I feel that these fairly simple guidelines can be used in any situation where you need a task performed by someone other than yourself.