What's in the context? | Lead through Contexts Like a Pro!

When in a conversation with someone, you get to hear, "well, it depends". Does that ring a bell in your mind?

The world is not black and white and so aren't the strategies and plans in life - personal or professional.  As we navigate different situations, with different people and in different environments, the way we lead might not necessarily look the same every single time. Having said that, it does not imply that the basic ethics and integrity need to be compromised at any point. That's another story of the values we hold. So, what is context all about?

Leading through Context: It all depends.

You may have a certain dominant style of leading yourself and others but it is the context that decides how you lead and navigate a particular situation. The context includes the who, what, when and the most important - WHY. Context matters and not everything works of fits in every situation. For example, it might have been a good idea to work all by yourself and give results to your previous organization. However, in your current organization, collaboration is everything, whether you like it or not. You are required to flex and adapt to the currents demands - in short be an authentic chameleon.

In a bigger scheme of things, let me provide you the 3 major contexts that will drive your leadership in any situation or context but you will need to use your situation sensing radars:

1. Self Context: 

Your most dominant leadership style will often come to the surface as soon as you face a situation, where you will have to make a move forward. They key is to acknowledge your dominant leadership style as it nudges you to act fast and then take an intentional pause and open your cards of some guiding questions. 

Here are some guiding questions to consider in the self-context:
  • What values do I truly hold and known for?
  • Should I simply do things my way?
  • What are my biases and assumptions?
  • Do I have all the information, knowledge and tools to take effective decisions?
  • Should I include others to collectively bringing ideas and thoughts together?
  • Is my dominant leadership style feasible in this situation to achieve the best outcome?
  • Should I just go with the standard organizational way, no matter what?
  • Why do I need to demonstrate certain behaviors in a particular situation?  
  • What are those behaviors that I need to demonstrate in a particular situation?
  • What will be the impact of my behaviors/actions?
  • What might I be missing and need to consider?

2. People Context: 

Image result for people icon

This context might take the front stage for many people leaders. Remember, that organizations are built and run by people, not by buildings and policies only. 

Here are some guiding questions to consider in the people-context:
  • Who am I dealing with? (audience, demographics, diversity and power dynamics)
  • What are the values that these people hold?
  • What do the past and current experiences of others include?
  • What biases and assumptions do I hold in regards to the people involved? Are they correct?
  • What biases and assumptions might these people hold against me? Are they correct and need to be addressed?
  • Do I understand the motivations and drives of the people involved?
  • Do I want to consider bringing in a diversity of voices on the table to take a decision or gather ideas?
  • What kind of leadership style do these people prefer and are expecting from me?
  • Do I need to challenge the leadership status quo and bring in a different leadership style that is required to lead the people involved - regardless of their expectations?
  • What will be the impact of a certain leadership style experienced by the people involved and how will that impact the organization?

3. Organization or Environmental Context:

Image result for organization icon

Organizational or environmental context relates to the policies, procedures, business goals and plans. Since I also call it the environmental context, it also includes the norms of the organization and the culture it lives and breathes.

Here are some guiding questions to consider in the organizational-context:
  • Is the organization clear about its purpose?
  • What stage is the organization in? (new/launch, growth, stagnant, shake-off, maturity, or decline)
  • What is the culture of the organization?
  • What are the acceptable dynamics of the environment/organization? (language, practices, movement of work - hierarchical/linear, sub-cultures, innovation, diversity, etc.)
  • How is the organization led by its leaders? 
  • Is the organization grounded in and promotes its values through its work and practices?

The Intertwining Contexts and Areas of Use

Image result for overlapping triangle icon

You would you have noticed that these contexts are the building blocks of any plan, strategy or action. They all connect and blend into each other very well. Leaders use the trio-contexts in different areas of practice. These include:

There could be endless situations to be cognizant of that cover all these contexts. If you'd like to know more about what specific actions might you take to navigate various contexts using your situation-sensing radars, then read

Expand your leadership capacity and succeed with Ledx Learning and Leadership. Read more of our bite-sized learning.


Sahil Sharma
Talent, Learning & Leadership Development Professional | Certified Leadership Coach

For consultation and services, contact us at www.ledxlearning.com

www.learningcups.com and the learning content on this portal is owned and managed by Ledx Learning and Leadership Solutions, Canada.