Managing People, Time and Work

The Situational Leadership Model

What if the situation rather than your personality or talents, determined your management style? Does the very thought of being a different kind of manager make you nervous? These questions and more are at the heart of situational leadership.

It is a dated model, at least on its own. Is it reasonable to think that different leadership behaviors are needed in emergencies than running a voluntary organization?

What is Situational Leadership?

Situational leadership theory is a way of managing employees, relationships and interactions with other people. Though most commonly used in business, it is a model about how to handle certain situations and relationships.

The Hersey and Blanchard Model

Leadership and the One Minute Manager BookThis model is the most developed and detailed. Created in the 1960s by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, it matches leadership styles with performance readiness levels (before 2008, called development levels) in order to create the perfect formula for every situation. A still published book on the model is Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness through Situational Leadership

Paul Hersey’s book is The Situational Leader

Leadership Styles

  1. Style 1 is the directing or telling leader. This style is suited to you if people call you a Type A personality or your employees say you’re a micro-manager. You call the shots, and the organization follows a “top-down” model such as government or large corporations.Book - The Situational Leader
  2. Style 2 is the coaching or selling leader. This is you if you decide who does what, but are interested in input from your employees. Decisions are still entirely in your hands, but your employees may view you more as an equal than a manager. Organizations that follow this model like to do things in teams like retail shops and restaurants.
  3. Style 3 is the supporting or participating leader. If you enjoy taking a hands-off position in daily operations, this is definitely your style. You kick-start the decision process, than hand it over to trusted employees or managers who know how the business works at the front line. This style works well with a small business with several dedicated long-term employees.
  4. Style 4 is the delegating leader. While you are involved in decisions, you would rather a subordinate make them for you so you can stay involved in upper management. This also works well with a small business model that includes long-term employees. Another great company to benefit from this would be those with less than five employees.

Employees Performance Readiness Levels:

  1. Readiness Level 1 is unable but insecure or unwilling. Your employee is unable and insecure and lacks confidence. They may just lack ambition.
  2. Readiness Level 2 is unable but confident or willing: Your employee may have trouble getting things done but remain confident as long as you provide guidance. Again, your subordinates may lack ability but be ambitious enough to improve.
  3. Readiness Level 3 is able but insecure or unwilling: Your employee can complete tasks but is afraid to do it alone. On the other hand, your subordinate might just be lazy.
  4. Readiness Level 4 is able, confident and willing: This is when all the pieces have fallen into place, usually with a long-term employee. Not only do they perform, they are ambitious and committed. You couldn’t ask for a better worker.

Situational Learning Model 2

This improvement on the Hersey Blanchard Model credited mainly to the creators listed above and Kristen Schebler of Purdue University seeks to work out some of the kinks with the original theory of Situational Leadership.

The Black Belt Way

Book - The Black Belt WayA relative newcomer to the world of situational leadership theory, author Timothy H. Warneka developed Leading People the Black Belt Way combining both Eastern and Western ideas. Instead of matching leadership styles with development levels, this theory uses a general road map approach that is broad enough to suit to almost any situation.

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