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The most practical on-the-Job-tool – Situational Leadership for Organizational Development

- By Shiva Chiluveru, 07 December 2020 | 7 MIN READ


All Leaders have their own style of leadership. This is because each of us has different personalities to drive business needs. Different models help managers, supervisors, vice-presidents, presidents, and CEO’s direct, execute plans and motivate people in their unique way.

Leadership has varied styles from leaders in political, business, or other fields exhibit. Among all the leadership practices, the transformational leadership style, which is often the most effective model to use. Leaders who use this model are known to have integrity and exceptional emotional intelligence.

Bureaucratic leadership is another model which is quite popular among managers or supervisors to get things done and follow rules rigorously ensuring the staff to follow instructions and accomplish tasks assigned.

This is why choosing a leadership style is all that important, it is necessary to understand different frameworks, so you can develop your way of becoming an effective leader. Another leadership model growing extremely popular among entrepreneurs and leaders is the situational leadership style.

How Situational Leadership Style is distinct From All the Other Styles?

There is no single leadership model that can be considered the best or the most suited, while the theory of the situational leadership style indicates that it is the most flexible and effective. Situational leadership determines which leadership style would depend on the situation at hand. Based on this theory, the finest leaders are those who are clever to adapt their style to what is transpiring around them using cues, such as the nature of the group, type of task, or other contributing elements that could help get the task done.

Dr. Paul Hershey, author of The Situational Leader, and Ken Blanchard, author of One-Minute Manager developed the situational leadership style. The theory is also referred to as the Hershey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory.

The theory has four main leadership styles:

Telling (S1) – leaders tell people what to do and how to do it.

Selling (S2) – leaders “sell” their ideas to entice the people into buying into the process.

Participating (S3) – leaders offer less direction, allowing people to take more active role in making decisions.

Delegating (S4) – leaders are less involved, has a more hands-off approach.

The Hershey-Blanchard theory also finds four development levels and recommends that leaders should balance these with the four main leadership styles, the S1-S4.

D1 (Low competence, high commitment) – S1 (Directing/telling)

This is the ideal leadership approach to use in situations wherein the followers/workgroups, lack competence, here the leader requires to show them how to do something or direct them but are committed to their jobs. In this case, an effective operational leader in such situations can deliver precise directions, such as solving problems, making decisions, and giving specific instructions. This style is also suitable for emergencies wherein the leader can manage and take control.

D2 (Some competence, low commitment) – S2 (Coaching / selling)

In this scenario, when the followers have little competence but lack commitment because of inexperience, the best-suited leadership style is the coaching style. People new to the job will need direction, support, and supervision, they will also need appreciation, morale, and confidence. Involving them in decision making is also a good idea to boost their commitment levels.

Problem-solving attitude, making crucial decisions, and provide direction and supervision are what makes an effective leader. But to ensure that followers can learn in the process, leaders need to explain decisions, ask for suggestions, and encourage the individuals/teams.

D3 (High competence, variable commitment) – S3 (Supporting / encouraging)

This is the best theory to use for extremely competent followers who lack in motivation or self-confidence. They do not need much guidance since they are highly competent and skilled, but they need support and cheer, especially if they lack commitment.

By using this approach, an effective leader will share accountability for solving problems and making decisions with others.

D4 (High competence, high commitment) – S4 (Delegating / empowering)

Followers with high levels of competence and commitment are picture-perfect. This is because people can work with minimum supervision possible. As a wiser leader one needs to provide them with clear goals and limits to their authority. The leadership style helps us to understand the true power of empowerment – It’s all about giving the people the permission to act and make a decision based on goals and within clear sets of boundaries.

How do you benefit from Situational Leadership?

Leaders can know when to be consistent and flexible to influence up, down, and across the organization and speed up development by creating productive teams that are mostly new to their task. Situational Leadership help also drives behaviour change and results effectively by communicating through a common and practical leadership language. All these factors promote engaged and committed staff or followers by recognizing and addressing performance dynamics.

Fundamentally, there are no good and bad leadership theories, however, there are leadership styles that work best for certain situations, tasks, and people. To be an effective leader, irrespective of one’s leadership approach, one must be able to evaluate the current situation properly and apply the best style of leadership for the situation.

It’s vital to note that new followers will often be categorized as development level D1. A successful operational leader can then help them to be level D4 by constantly fine-tuning and acclimatizing to their style, helping them progress.




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