Situational leadership is a form of leadership that is generally adaptable, where a manager or the leader of a company adjusts his leadership to suit a style that matches the goals of his team members. The concept was studied and adapted by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, who believe that leaders in the modern-day can no longer lead a team, based only on their positional influence.
The strategy of situational leadership aims to uphold how a leader is required to change his style of leadership based on the followers he is trying to influence, rather than them trying to adapt to his style. A leader is required to note and understand the development levels of his team members, consider the situation and then decide on a leadership style that meets their needs. Situational leadership, as a concept is flexible and a leader can change his management style based on his insights.
Most organizations around the world follow the situational leadership model and here’s what they aim for:
- To bring out the best in their teammates and establish a working relationship among all
- Enhance development skills in general
- Aim to uphold a common style of leadership in an organization, regardless of how big or small it may be
Breakdown of a situational leadership
Situational leadership involves a certain style which managers or leaders use to influence their teammates. Here is a breakdown of the same:
Coaching to influence
A common form of situational leadership, leaders often deploy the use of this method to arrive at a decision within the organization. The leader usually is completely involved in daily events within the organization, however, when it comes to making decisions, he consults with employees to make them feel more involved. Employees are still supervised by the leader who rather acts as a coach rather than a manager. This works well among less-experienced people in increasing their confidence.
Directing or telling
This style of situational leadership is often referred to as a micro-managed form of leadership. The leader is extremely involved in day-to-day happenings, and he is the person with whom all decisions of the organization solely rest. Employees are supervised at a personal level, they do as and what they are told, with the leader deciding the way forward for them and asking them to accordingly. This leadership style follows a more top to bottom approach.
In this form of leadership, the leader is not involved in each decision in an organization. The employees are authorized and responsible for making their own decisions when it comes to responsibilities and tasks to fulfill. A leader is only involved at a more superficial level when the team seeks his approval on something, turns to him for direction or asks for general feedback. Even then his involvement in his team’s affairs is minimal. This style of leadership helps employees act as self-sufficient decision-makers.
Support and equal participation
A leader, in this case, is someone who guides his teammates through a situation by providing feedback. This system is devoid of influencing or directing. While the leader merely suggests or helps with some direction, it is up to the employees to implement it or not. This style of situational leadership involves a lot of two-way participation and gives more power and responsibility to employees or teammates. They are usually confident and work with a lot of motivation no matter what the tasks at hand are.
According to the development level
The situational leadership style of a leader can be based on what the development level of his teammates or employees is. While certain inexperienced employees may need a more directing or telling style, someone who is experienced and has a lot of skills already may conform to the employee delegation style.
It is often difficult to decide on one leadership style since leadership is often situational and more subjective than objective. The whole idea revolves around choosing the right leadership for the right kind of followers, what their eligibility is, what their development levels are, and how competent they are. As long as the leader understands what style he needs to adopt for his people to adapt, situational leadership works great for most businesses.
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