A good leader does not treat the same way an employee who has just joined a company compared to a worker with years of experience within the company. While the first one needs more guidelines on how to carry out the work, the second will have a clear idea of the way forward and their needs will focus on the support and recognition of the superior.
This adaptability of the manager is the basis of situational leadership, one of the most widespread models currently in organizations around the world.
What is situational leadership
Originally known as ‘Leadership Life Cycle Theory’, the situational leadership model was described in the 1970s by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, who formulated a management style based on the relationship between leaders and followers, because As this second author said, “the key to successful leadership is today in influence, not authority.”
The model establishes a framework for analysis on the following parameters:
- The amount of orientation, direction and socio-emotional support that the leader gives.
- The level of development shown by the followers when performing a task, both regarding their professional competence and commitment and involvement with their work.
It is, as Hersey himself said, to apply “organized common sense“, that is, to understand on the part of managers the relationship between an effective leadership style and the level of preparation displayed by the followers for a specific task.
How is situational leadership developed?
Therefore, flexibility is the main characteristic of this leadership style, where the superior adapts his behavior according to the circumstances of the specific case.
In Hersey’s words, “a situational leader is anyone who, in any situation, is aware that influencing behavior is not a fact, but a process.” It is not a change in the personality of the manager, but a process composed of the following phases:
- Diagnosis: understand the situation in which you try to influence.
- Adaptation: adjust the behavior in response to the contingencies of the situation.
- Communication: interact with others in a way that they can understand and accept the leader’s guidance.
- Impulse: manage the action by the workers.
- Guide: Discover how to manage talent for leadership
Situational leadership styles
The crossing between professional competence and the level of commitment of the employees gives rise to a quadrant where situational leadership is divided into the following four styles:
- A leadership focused on providing firm guidelines to workers under constant supervision of the manager before teams with low motivation and low skills and experience.
- A persuasive style, where work patterns are also provided to employees but their participation is also encouraged, in cases in which the group has high capacities, but maintains a low level of involvement.
- A participatory management model, if you have a team of collaborators who, although suffering from sufficient skills and experience, are motivated, encouraging participation and feedback from the group and gradually giving responsibilities to the workers.
- A delegating leadership in which employees have full autonomy and the mission of the manager is focused on detecting and promoting the talent of employees, for those situations in which professionals are prepared at the competence and motivational level.
Advantages of situational leadership
According to the Situational Leadership work. Revelant Then, Revelant Now, from The Center for Leadership Studies, situational leadership brings the following advantages to the organization:
- It is a multidirectional model that can be used to influence vertically and horizontally through the organization.
- It is applicable under any circumstance, whether it is new workers, experienced, and have greater or lesser involvement.
- It allows leaders to influence the behavior of others effectively.
- Accelerates the pace and quality of employee development.
- Maximize the results of the workers.
- Create more productive work teams.
Characteristics of the situational leader
How is the situation leader recognized? According to Yscout, a specialized employment portal in the C-Suite, situational leadership has the following attributes:
- Flexibility. Given that the management style will depend on the professionals with whom he collaborates, as we have seen, the situational leader modifies his way of acting, adapting it to the level of maturity and motivation of the work team.
- Adaptability. In addition to the characteristics of the group of professionals, this manager also takes into account the circumstances surrounding their joint performance. For example, in a crisis situation, the leader may choose to apply an authoritarian style that allows quick decisions.
- Leadership. In cases where the teams are not prepared, the executive must have sufficient managerial skills to transmit the instructions and supervise the process.
- Coaching. Another of its capabilities is to know how to guide and motivate the work teams, in order to reinforce their involvement with the project.
- Participation. If the situation permits, the situational leadership also requires the promotion by the manager of the workers’ feedback, involving them in the decision making process.
- Delegation. Another characteristic of situational leadership is the ability to empower professionals and empower them to develop their functions based on pre-established objectives.
- Integrity. The change of management style can not depend on the particular interests of the management, but the manager must adopt one or the other model in an honest and consistent manner with their values.
- Courage. Moving from one type of leadership to another is not easy, so the situational leadership is surrounded by a high dose of courage that allows you to leave your comfort zone and choose the most appropriate style at all times.
- View. Obviously, in order to discern which is the most appropriate leadership model, the manager must have a clear vision that helps him to identify the degree of maturity and involvement of the staff and the demands of the moment.
- Humility. Whether he has a highly trained and motivated team, or not, the situational leader is aware that he does not have the absolute truth, so he assumes his own limitations, accepting the perspectives of the workers, in the first case, and fostering the development of employees, in the second, so that in the future they are fully trained.