Personal Development
Situational Leadership : What it is and how to build it - Shiken

Situational Leadership : What it is and how to build it - Shiken

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Situational Leadership: An Overview

Situational Leadership is an approach to managing team performance that was developed in 1969 by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey. It focuses on the Performance Readiness level of employees or teams, recognizing that there is no single best approach to leading, and that every person and situation is unique. By understanding the elements of the Situational Leadership model, leaders can effectively adjust their approach to effectively guide their team's performance.

Situational Leadership Model Overview

The Situational Leadership Theory is based on the concept of Performance Readiness, the ability and willingness of an employee to successfully complete a task. This Performance Readiness is based on the amount of direction and support they receive from their leader, with those with more experience or skill requiring less direction. It is the leader's responsibility to be flexible and to adjust their approach to match the skills and experience of the individual or team.

The Four Styles of Situational Leadership

The Situational Leadership model includes four distinct leadership styles:

  • Directing
  • Coaching
  • Supporting
  • Delegating

The Directing style involves providing clear instructions and a high level of direction and control. The Coaching approach requires giving a moderate level of direction and support to ensure tasks are completed correctly. Supporting involves providing emotional and moral support with some instruction. Finally, Delegating involves allowing an employee autonomy and freedom to complete a task without guidance.

Situational Leadership Examples

In order to master the art of flexibility, it's important for aspiring leaders to understand the importance of the Situational Leadership model and seek out real-world examples. Consider the situation of on-boarding a new employee, for example. In this case, the leader should take a more hands-on approach and provide clear instructions and guidance to develop their skills. Alternatively, when working with a more experienced employee, the leader should take a step back and allow them to make decisions independently.

Understanding the Benefits & Disadvantages

The Situational Leadership model has been proven to be effective in helping leaders build a thriving workforce and better adapt to their work environment. This approach encourages a culture of inclusion and belonging and allows leaders to respond to the changing needs of their teams. However, it requires strong self-awareness and not all employees may respond positively to certain leadership styles.

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Understanding Situational Leadership Styles

Situational Leadership utilizes four distinct leadership styles in order to maximize task performance. These styles, known as Telling (S1), Selling (S2), Participating (S3), and Delegating (S4), all offer different tactics depending on individual or team situation.

Telling and Directing (S1)

The most basic of the four styles, Telling requires a high degree of directive behavior along with low supportive behavior. This allows the leader to direct and provide guidance to those who may require closer supervision and instructions.

Selling and Persuading (S2)

With an S2 style, the leader engages in two-way communication to incentivize active participation from those who may not have the capability to do the task but are willing to give it a try. Through the use of reinforcement, like praising for small successes, the leader can help boost confidence and engagement.

Participating and Sharing (S3)

In cases where the team or team member is capable of performing the task but may lack confidence or have an unwillingness to do so, S3 allows the leader to adopt a more democratic approach. Here, the leader can hear input from others and provide positive feedback to create a more encouraging environment.

Delegating (S4)

The most advanced of the leadership styles, S4 is most effective for highly skilled teams or members with a high self-motivation and confidence. The leader in this case will still set the vision, but can grant authority to the team or team member to complete the task independently.

Qualities of a Situational Leader

In order to be an effective Situational Leader, there are several qualities and abilities that are needed. This includes being able to switch between the four leadership styles depending on the Performance Readiness level of the team, providing support to team members and recognizing their contributions, and empowering team members to accomplish agreed goals.

Learning from History

Several inspiring figures have successfully implemented the Situational Leadership approach throughout history, such as US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Colin Powell, John Wooden, and Patricia Susan Summit. Dwight D. Eisenhower is well-known for finding success in World War II by balancing the interests of powerful leaders while also spending time among the troops, shaking hands and lifting spirits.

Developing Your Skills

It is important for leaders to recognize the importance of being able to adapt their approach based on various situations and to use the appropriate leadership style to draw out the best results. As different tasks require different approaches, it is imperative that the Situational Leadership style is mastered in order to be a sustained leader.

What Is Situational Leadership?

The Situational Leadership model is a tried-and-tested framework which can be employed by leaders to identify, adjust and adapt their leadership style to best suit the individual employee's ability and willingness to complete an assigned task. By matching the appropriate leadership style with the employee's Performance Readiness level for a given task, leaders can craft an environment in which employees feel supported and valued in their role.

The Benefits of Situational Leadership

By utilizing the Situational Leadership model, leaders can expect to see a variety of benefits, such as increased communication and stronger relationships and trust. When the correct leadership style is applied to match the employee's capability and willingness for a task, team members are more likely to achieve their goals.

Common Attributes of Great Situational Leaders

Though it may take time to become familiar with the Situational Leadership model, and a level of effort to hone the skills needed to become a successful situational leader, there are several key attributes which are commonly found in those who excel in this style of leadership.

  • Flexibility
  • Active Listening Skills
  • A Clear Sense of Direction
  • The Ability to Encourage Participation
  • Coaching Skills

Examples of Situational Leadership In Action

Colin Powell, the former US Army General, Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believed in taking a Situational Leadership approach with his commands. He recognized the unique experience levels, skills, strengths, and weaknesses of each individual he worked with. By adjusting his style to suit each individual, Powell was able to maximize the potential of all members of his team.

The same can be said for the iconic John Wooden, former UCLA men's basketball coach. Thanks to his ability to adjust his leadership style to best suit the changing dynamics of his team, Wooden was able to guide the Bruins to 10 championships, seven of them consecutive, and an 88-game winning streak across three seasons.

Former University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball head coach Pat Summitt is a prime example of what can be achieved when a leader sets high standards and pushes their team members to their personal limits. During her 38-year career, Summitt led her college basketball team to eight national titles and won more than 84% of their games.

Potential Disadvantages of Situational Leadership

While Situational Leadership is a valuable leadership style, it does have its potential drawbacks. These can include confusing employees with an inconsistent approach, a lack of focus on long-term goals, and the risk of placing too much responsibility on the leader. Additionally, when the leader is evaluating the competence of each team member, they may not have enough knowledge to make an accurate assessment, or may be misled if an employee is attempting to seem knowledgeable.

Unlock Your Leadership Potential with Shiken Coaching

Being a successful leader requires a combination of different styles and skills. As a leader, you should strive to become more aware of your own style and adapt bits and pieces from different styles to your own unique approach. Enhancing your leadership capacity is an essential step towards advancing a career, team, and organization.

Situational Leadership Theory

The Situational Leadership Model is a framework frequently used by leaders to assess the ability and readiness of each team member when completing tasks. It enables you to adjust your leadership style to meet the needs of the individual, ultimately strengthening the relationship between the team and leader, and producing a more positive working atmosphere.

Nonetheless, when implementing Situational Leadership, it is important to be mindful of any potential risks, such as confusion, lack of focus on long-term objectives, and an overdose of responsibility for the leader.

In order to grow as a leader, it is necessary to recognize different leadership styles and understand the challenges that come with each of them. Having insight into your strengths and weaknesses will enable you to become an efficient leader. If your commitment to leadership development is resolute, a Shiken coach can help unlock your leadership potential.

Exploring 18 Types of Leadership Styles

Leadership is requisite for any successful organization, and leadership styles are many. To make the ideal decision for your team, the following is an exploration of 18 leadership styles with advice from experts.

The Trait Theory of Leadership is one commonly discussed style. This model is based on the notion that leaders possess certain personal features such as confidence, initiative, and good judgement. In order to get familiar with the Trait Theory of Leadership, here are ten characteristics as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using this leadership philosophy:

  • Confidence: Leaders should maintain a certain level of confidence when making decisions.
  • Initiative: Leaders must practice what they preach.
  • Good Judgment: Leaders must be a positive example to follow.
  • Practical Intelligence: Leaders should be capable of thoughtful decision-making.
  • Integrity: Leaders must be authentic and trustworthy.
  • Adaptability: Leaders should adjust to changing situations.
  • Empathy: Leaders should recognize and meet the needs of their followers.
  • Strong Communication: Leaders should be able to communicate effectively with followers and superiors.
  • Persuasiveness: Leaders have to be convincing to ensure followers keep on track.
  • Leadership Presence: Leaders should be able to command respect for their opinions.

Advantages of the Trait Theory of Leadership include identifying and managing effective leaders, leading from any position in an organization, and generating a sense of trust and respect. On the other hand, there are a few drawbacks, such as the lack of consideration towards non-traditional leaders and the difficulty of judging performance based on personal preferences. Leaders should keep in mind the potential for bias when selecting individuals for promotions.

Managing Your Emotions

In order to remain in control during difficult circumstances, it is important to regulate your emotions. Here are some helpful tips to manage emotions during challenging times:

  • Take a deep breath: Stop to take a few moments and breathe deeply.
  • Examine your emotions: Analyse what is causing your emotions and how to best manage the situation.

Manage Difficult Situations and Strengthen Your Relationships

When faced with challenging situations, it's important to understand your feelings and decide how best to manage them. Healthy activities such as exercise and spending time with friends can help maintain emotional balance. Building rapport is an integral part of any relationship, so here are 6 steps that will help strengthen your bonds:

  • Be open and honest - let people see your true self and build trust and understanding.
  • Show genuine interest - ask questions and get to know the other person.
  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues - observe the other person's body language and the tone of their voice.
  • Be empathetic - demonstrate that you understand and care about their perspective.
  • Be respectful - treat them with respect and value their opinion.
  • Be positive - keep the conversation upbeat and encourage the other person.

Charismatic leaders are powerful in that they can use their personality to inspire followers. They are also capable of relating to people intimately, creating trust and loyalty. However, this type of leadership can be dangerous if misused. The Contingency Theory of Leadership is the idea that effective leadership is contingent on the specific situation. This theory is beneficial in providing guidance, yet it disregards individual differences and relies heavily on the leader's ability to assess the context.

Shiken Coaching Services

At Shiken, we believe everyone can and should live with purpose and passion. We are passionate about helping people, teams, and organizations achieve their goals and unlock their potential. Our services include leadership training, executive coaching, and team development programs that provide the necessary skills, mindsets, and behaviors for successful teams and organizations. By providing these tools, we hope to strive for a world where everyone can reach their greatest potential.

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