Situational Leadership

Situational leadership, sounds straight forward and simple, doesn’t it? Then why is it so rarely applied? Created by professor and author Dr. Paul Hersey and author Ken Blanchard, Situational leadership refers to when the leader or manager of an organization must adjust his style to fit the development level of the followers he is trying to influence.

The model shows the most effective leadership style based on the follower’s development and willingness as related to the task, project or job.  Thus, the model can be applied not only to different people within the same organization but different people at different times within the same organization depending on the project and job they are working on.

An image of the model though it has evolved over the years looked like this:

The model when applied appropriately makes total sense and is effective.  The trick is to know your own personality style, leadership style and know how to adjust that as needed based on the person that you are leading, their personality, and the job at hand.  The tendency is to look at a person and their accomplishments or capability and think that because they are competent and capable in one area or in a current job that they will be the same in another job or on another project and that may be true and it may not.  They may need to be someone that you have been utilizing “S3” or “S4” with in one job or situation and they need “S1” or “S2” style now.  Often when we are coaching leaders that are having difficulty with someone it is because they have misread or not even thought about how the person as it relates to the specific situation they have been placed in.  They delegated to them and things aren’t going well, missed deadlines, poorer quality work and then they knew jerk back to “S1” from “S4” and the person feels micromanaged which they aren’t used to.

How do you avoid situations like that?
  1. Know the follower’s personality type by utilizing things like the Everything DiSC assessment.
  2. Have a conversation about personalities, the project or job and what leadership style each of you is expecting will be utilized.
  3. Identify any potential pitfalls in advance and agree on how they will be handled.
  4. Keep lines of communication open and expect and encourage mistakes.
  5. Learn together.

There are many leadership models out there and they all have benefits. This is one that has continued to evolve but when applied in conjunction with personality understandings, authenticity and transparency can be very effective. Enjoy the leadership journey.