Situational Leadership: What It Is And How To Practice?

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” -Rosalynn Carte

Effective leadership is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The art of leading involves tailoring one’s approach to unique circumstances, individuals, and needs. This concept is called situational leadership, a dynamic leadership model that stood out because of its adaptability and effectiveness. In this article, we will delve into the principles of situational leadership, its benefits, potential drawbacks, and more. 

Understanding Situational Leadership

Situational Leadership is a leadership model that emphasizes the importance of tailoring leadership styles to suit the specific needs of individuals and situations. It was developed by Dr. Paul Hersey and Dr. Ken Blanchard in the 1960s while working on the textbook Management of Organizational Behavior. At the core of the situational relationship is the belief that there is no across-the-board approach to leadership. Instead, leaders must be flexible and able to adjust their leadership styles for the good of their team, support them, and produce positive outcomes. In a nutshell, leaders who are agile and openly twist their personalities conditionally are situational leaders. Hersey and Blanchard identified four primary leadership styles, such as – 

1- Direct 

Also called the telling leadership style, Direct leadership provides specific instructions and closely supervises tasks. Leaders directly tell their team what to do and how to do it. It is effective leadership when the team is out of ideas and confident in its ability to perform the task independently. 

2- Coaching 

Another situational leadership style is Coaching, which is also known as selling. This style involves more guidance and support from the leader. In this, the leader tells people what to do from the perspective of the leader rather than a commander. When mixed with direction, a high level of support is known as coaching leadership

3- Supporting 

When leadership shifts toward a supportive role rather than directing, it is called supportive leadership. This situational leadership is especially beneficial for team members who can perform tasks independently and just need the support of their boss as motivation and encouragement.  

4- Delegating 

The delegating situational leadership style is the freestyle in which leaders allow their team to take ownership of tasks and make decisions independently. This approach is more suitable for highly skilled and motivated team members and may highlight new leaders from the team depending on their performance. 

Advantages & Disadvantages of Situational Leadership 

Leadership is a broad term when it comes to businesses or entrepreneurs. Without efficient leadership, no business can grow. However, bad leadership can result in adverse outcomes. That means leadership has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore a few major ones. 

Advantages of Situational Leadership

1- Flexibility 

This kind of leadership allows leaders to adapt their approach based on the team member’s needs and the situation’s demands. In this, leaders can effectively navigate people through various challenges and ensure optimal results. 

2- Employee Development 

By supporting and encouraging them to make their own decisions, leaders promote employees’ decisions. Situational leadership provides opportunities to use their skills and knowledge, leading to great performance and job satisfaction. 

3- Improved communication

In most types of situational leadership, such as supporting and delegating, there is open communication between the leader and followers. Good communication is one of the essential leadership skills that especially promotes success. 

4-Conflict Resolution

A leader is not always a boss who keeps on dictating the tasks. Instead, they must act like a senior family member who endeavors to encourage team bonding by preventing and resolving issues by addressing issues like miscommunication, mismatched expectations, and lack of support.

Disadvantages of Situational Leadership

1- Complexity 

Implementing situational leadership requires a deep understanding of the situation and leadership styles. It can be challenging for individuals without professional leadership skills

2- Time-Consuming 

Tailoring leadership styles to specific needs and situations need time and effort. Being constantly involved in adjusting leadership styles can be time-intensive. 

3- Risks

Constantly changing leadership strategies may lead to inconsistency, which sends the wrong message to followers and may sometimes lead to conflicts. In fact, leaders must be focused and stick to their actions for effective business management and organizational goals. 

4- Dependency 

Leaders must rely on their followers or teams and should not depend on them for tasks. Situational dependency increases the dependency on the team as it adopts a directive and delegating leadership style. However, this dependency sometimes hinders development. 

Situational Leadership: Good Or Bad?

Situational leadership is an effective approach for leaders seeking business development and growth. Leaders can achieve their business goals faster than ever by recognizing that leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Situational leadership is a kind of strategic leadership in which leader alter their leading strategies according to their team or business needs to meet specific requirements. With the right strategies, it fosters productivity, teamwork, and growth, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes. Therefore, it is good and bad both, depending on the strategies. 

“A Boss Has A Title, A Leader Has The People” – Simon Sinek

Leave a Reply