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What is Supportive Leadership and How to Develop it?

What is Supportive Leadership and How to Develop it?

Leadership challenges have changed over the last year, since onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we must learn to adapt to these new circumstances in order to sustain positive working relationships and an effective leadership role.

Supportive leadership is created by focusing upon the individual employee’s needs and tailoring management to fit the individual, rather than expecting employees to work with the leadership strategy that a particular manager prefers.

For instance, some leaders favour an autonomous management style while others lean towards higher levels of control. With supportive leadership, a combination of both approaches are used depending upon the needs and requirements of a particular employee.

The following points explore supportive leadership in more depth and give advice on how to achieve it.



What is Supportive Leadership?

Supportive leadership is a style of leadership based upon the needs of the employee, rather than the preferences of the leader, which encourages leaders to support team members with resources and skills to encourage autonomous working practises.

A manager, using supportive leadership techniques, delegates a task to a particular employee, supporting them throughout with additional resources and tools, until the task is complete. Once this is done, the manager provides constructive feedback, additional training (where necessary) and further supervision as required on similar tasks until the employee is confident and competent to work autonomously.

The level of support varies with each employee based upon their existing experience, skill level and aptitude for the task or tasks being completed. Employees should feel comfortable asking for additional support at any time.



How to Develop Supportive Leadership

In order to develop supportive leadership within the workplace (or at home when working remotely) leaders must develop positive relationships with their team.

The following steps give valuable advice on developing supportive leadership and building confident, autonomous teams.



1. Relationship Building

Positive relationships in the workplace are essential for the success of every team. This applies to leaders and their team, and also, each team member.

Highly committed teams work well together, share a common motivation and enjoy secure relationships.

They understand they can call on each other, or their manager, for support, and trust that they are there to help when needed.

Leaders can build relationships with team members that are based on mutual trust, care and inspiration through the use of workshops, training, team building exercises and continued workplace respect and encouragement.

Feedback, motivation, group objectives and morale are all sustained and improved through positive relationships.


2. Understand Your Team

A clear understanding of each team member and their particular needs is vital to a supportive leader.

Find out which team members are working from home in their dining room with young children, which team member is less self-confident than others, who would most benefit from mentorship, or who needs additional training to advance their career, then begin to put additional support in place for those who need it and organise training for others.

In this way, your team will see that you are there to support them and help them achieve their goals, and you will be best placed to spot any potential issues as they arise.

A supportive leader who knows their team well can also ensure their team plays to their strengths on each project and fill in gaps with additional training.



3. Solutions, Resources and Training

A supportive leader, who understands their team, will be able to provide detailed solutions, resources and training to ensure the success of a joint project.

Help team members reach their targets by giving them the assistance they need as quickly as possible, with ongoing support and feedback, to ensure continued accomplishment.

Be available for queries, check-ins and updates, and accept the offer of a quick coffee (where you’ll often learn far more than just how a particular team member takes their coffee).


The leadership training courses offered here at Creative Word improve leadership skills, encourage diversity and inclusion, ensure cultural acceptance, and give you the tools you need to support your team.

For more information check out our courses here, or contact us.