Situational Leadership theory was developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard. It is a practical leadership model that, when practiced and perfected, can lead to very positive outcomes for the leader and follower.
Because it focuses on determining the best leadership style for the situation and person(s) involved, the leader is encouraged to develop his/her ability to use a variety of styles. Thus, avoiding the pitfalls of a “one style fits all” approach.
I was introduced to this model more than twenty years ago. Of all the leadership theories, it is my favorite.
Let me tell you why.
It is designed to help leaders match their leadership style to the readiness level of the follower in a given/specific situation.
Therefore, the leader will tailor their leadership style based on the follower's readiness to complete a task/project. This video gives an overview of this theory.
According to Hersey and Blanchard, leaders engage in four (4) primary behaviors with followers:
Styles S2 and S3 are high relationship, since the leader focuses on explaining decisions and invites the follower to share ideas.
Styles S1 and S4 tend to be low relationship, but for different reasons. S1 is a "hands on" approach where the follower is closely supervised. Whereas S4 is "hands off" resulting in the follower having full responsibility for completing the task at hand.
Usually, leaders favor one of these styles more than others. But that practice can cause problems, since leader behavior should be adjusted based on the readiness of the follower. This is the CORE premise of this model.
Readiness is based on your assessment of the follower’s ability and willingness to complete a given task.
Also known as “skill and will,” these attributes vary (from low to high) depending upon the task to be completed. The leader must assess the follower’s readiness level to determine which style will be most effective to achieve the desired outcome in the given situation.
It requires time on the front end (and before assigning a task). But this practice can pay great dividends in the long run. It helps build a good working relationship and can be used to shape the follower’s individual development plan.
The SWOT Analysis is a great tool to use to complete this assessment.
Unfortunately, some supervisors do not take the time to understand and leverage the potential in this model; too many are fighting “fires” and managing the present.
Those who harness the power in the Situational Leadership Model will experience positive outcomes, for themselves and those they lead.
For more information on ways to harness the power of this model, please contact Coach Gwen.