Situational leadership

Definition of situational leadership
The concept of situational leadership refers to a leadership model whereby the leader adopts different leadership styles depending on the situation and the level of development of the employees.

All work teams go through various phases of development, hence the most effective leadership style is the one that adapts to the collaborators at all times, thus exercising leadership appropriate to the team's needs. Depending on the characteristics of the moment, the leader must choose a way of leading in each situation, even giving a different orientation to the same person in different situations.

Ultimately, situational leadership is based on establishing a balance between the different types of behavior exercised by a leader in order to adapt to the level of development and competence of their work team.

Hersey and Blanchard's situational leadership
Within the field of work and human resources psychology, Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard designed the situational leadership model. This model affirms that you can analyze a certain situation and then adopt a leadership style appropriate to that situation and thus be able to carry out the task successfully. The analysis of this situation will depend mainly on the maturity of the employees.
Hersey and Blanchard define maturity not as age or emotional stability, but for them the maturity of employees consists of the desire for achievement they have, the ability, the experience, and the willingness to accept responsibility.

Situational leadership characteristics by Hersey and Blanchard
As we said before, situational leadership is based on establishing a balance between the types of behavior that a leader exercises in order to adapt to his work team. The types of behavior of a leader are two:

  • Managerial behavior: focused on the development of the task. The leader defines the functions and tasks; It indicates what, when and how to carry them out and controls the results.
  • Supportive behavior: focused on group development. The leader encourages participation and gives cohesion; supports and motivates group members.

The leader can use both types of behavior to a greater or lesser extent resulting in four styles of leadership.

  • Control: high level of directive behavior and low level of support. Leaders define roles and tasks and make decisions.
  • Supervision: high level of managerial behavior but asks the team for ideas and suggestions and acknowledges progress and improvements.
  • Counseling: high level of supportive and low managerial behavior. The leader and the team take part in the decisions and control is exercised jointly.
  • Delegation: low levels in both behaviors. The presence of the leader diminishes and the responsibility lies entirely with the team.

Each of these styles will be adapted to the different levels of development or to the different situations that a work team will have to go through to complete the task. Hersey and Blanchard define four levels the team goes through:

  • Development level 1 (E1): the leader controls. Low competence / low commitment: lack of skills to carry out the task and lack of motivation to tackle it.
  • Development level 2 (E2): the leader supervises. Some competence / low commitment: The team has certain relevant skills but is unable to do the job without help. They are not yet committed to the task.
  • Development level 3 (E3): the leader advises. High competition / variable commitment: the team is experienced and capable but still lacks a bit of confidence to go it alone or motivation to do it fast and well.
  • Development level 4 (E4): the leader delegates. High competence / high commitment: they have experiences in their positions and they feel comfortable and safe performing them.

Let's see an image to be clearer:


Ultimately, what Hersey and Blanchard and the concept of situational leadership want to convey is that the role of a leader should not be static, and that when the word leader is referred to it does not have to refer only to the business sphere.

All people have to lead in certain areas of our life, and the success that precedes this model does nothing but affirm the necessary capacity for adaptation and habituation that human beings must have in the face of life's demands. .

Do you want more information about situational leadership? Has there been something you did not understand? Have you had any experience with this kind of leadership that you want to share? Well, do not hesitate to leave your opinion or raise any question that interests you to expand further. I will be happy to solve it and that together we reach the optimal conclusion. Greetings and until next time, Andrea

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