Situational Leadership

What is Situational Leadership?

Situational leadership is a dynamic leadership style where leaders or managers adapt their guidance according to a situation or task to meet the needs of the team or team members. Situational leadership style helps managers understand the Performance Readiness levels of the employees.

It helps managers adapt better to the working environments. The guidance style of different leaders depends on multiple variables, including the behavior and personality of employees.

Who are the Situational Leaders?

A situational leader can be defined as a leader who changes their leadership style to suit the organizational needs. They choose the right leadership style for the right people. The modifications in the guidance style are made to establish rapport and help team members grow by bringing out the best in them.

Situational leaders create a psychological safety net for their employees where team members are encouraged to express their thoughts, emotions, experiences, and inputs. However, to apply the situational leadership model, managers must consider each member’s learning style, background, personality, experience, ego, and motivators.

What is Situational Leadership Model?

Situational Leadership Approach or Model was developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey in 1969. It was developed when they realized the ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work for all leaders. The Situational Leadership Model has divided leadership styles into four categories: telling, selling, participating, and delegating.

Leaders in various industries adopt Situational Leadership Approach because of its benefits. This model allows leaders to stay in close communication with their team members, thus, creating a work environment where every employee feels valued. They assess, adjust, and adapt their leadership style to help employees complete the tasks on time.

Situational Leadership Model Examples

Situational Leadership Model is also known as the Blanchard-Hersey Model Approach. This approach considers the willingness and ability of employees relating to a particular task. It also takes into account the amount of direction and support needed from the leaders.

Some personalities that demonstrate the situational leadership approach include Steve Jobs, Phil Jackson, George Patton, Colin Powell, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Colin Powell was a U.S. General in the military and a political statesman. He worked with a range of individuals from soldiers to national leaders of different countries across the globe. He defined his leadership style as “I am a situational leader, and I adjust my style, within limits, to the strengths and weaknesses of my subordinates.”

What are the Four Main Situational Leadership Styles?

The Blanchard-Hersey approach divides situational leadership into four main styles. The applicability of these styles depends on the ‘Performance Readiness’ levels of employees. These four styles are:

  1. Telling of leadership style (S1)
  2. Selling of leadership style (S2)
  3. Participating of leadership style (S3)
  4. Delegating of leadership style (S4)

1. Telling of leadership style (S1): In this leadership style, the manager makes decisions and then communicates them to the team members. It is best suited for a team requiring close supervision and regular guidance.

2. Selling of leadership style (S2): It refers to the leadership style where a manager creates roles and responsibilities for team members but is open to suggestions.

3. Participating of leadership style (S3): This leadership style follows a democratic approach and leaves the decision-making responsibilities to the team members.

4. Delegating of leadership style (S4): This leadership style is best suited when working with experienced senior staff members. The leaders are responsible for their team but provide minimum guidance to team members.

What is Situational Leadership Maturity Model?

Situational Leadership Maturity Model refers to an approach where leaders adapt their management styles based on the maturity levels of the team members. The maturity levels of the employees can be divided into low (M1), moderately low (M2), moderately high (M3), and high (M4).

  1. Level M1 refers to low maturity level employees who lack the knowledge and skills to complete a task
  2. Level M2 refers to team members having enthusiasm and willingness but lack of skills to complete a task
  3. Level M3 refers to an employee who is willing and able to complete the task but unwilling to take responsibility
  4. Level M4 employees have high skills and willingness to complete a task

How Does Situational Leadership Help in Management?

Situational leadership helps in goal setting and achievement in an organization based on the performance readiness levels (PRL) of employees. The PRL is divided into four parts:

  • R1: Unable and Insecure or Unwilling
  • R2: Unable but Confident or Willing
  • R3: Able but Insecure or Unwilling
  • R4: Able and Confident and Secure

In addition, it allows leaders to adapt to changing circumstances, overcome challenges, and thrive in new situations.

Which Leadership Models are Situational Approaches?

The Blanchard-Hersey approach is known as the situational leadership model. It has categorized the leadership styles into four major categories: telling, selling, participating, and delegating.

What are the Most Important Characteristics of Situational Leadership?

Flexibility, trust, coaching skills, and problem-solving abilities are the most important characteristics of situational leadership.

Is Situational Leadership Really Effective?

Yes, situational leadership is effective as it follows an intuitive appeal. It offers multi-directional influence and allows leaders to change their management style according to organizational needs.

What Two Leadership Dimensions are Highlighted in the Situational Approach?

Directive or task behavior and supportive behavior are two leadership dimensions in situational leadership. In directive behavior, leaders inform followers about the how, when, and where of a given task. On the contrary, in supportive behavior, leaders engage in open dialogues, listen actively to team members, and provide recognition.

What does Situational Leadership Theory Focus on?

The situational leadership theory focuses on the following:

  1. Diagnosis of an individual’s performance readiness levels
  2. Adapting leader behavior based on the diagnosis
  3. Managing the movement toward higher performance
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