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What You Need to Know About Situational Leadership in 2024?

The situational leadership style contends that there is no ideal leadership style. Instead, it depends on the team, the task, and the organizational tactics which style will be most appropriate for the job.

This idea holds that the best leaders are those who can modify their approach to the circumstance and take into account pointers like the nature of the task, the composition of the group, and other elements that may help get the job done.

What Is Situational Leadership?

Situational leadership is a fluid, adaptive form of leadership that allows a leader to choose whether to be more directive or supportive depending on the specific requirements of each of their team members. This leadership style modifies their management approach in response to an individual’s progress. A situational leader is aware that there are several factors to take into account while working with a team. Every person has their background, character, learning preferences, experience, and motivation. It is built on a leader’s capacity to adapt to the needs of a group or company to be a better and more successful leader, rather than on the leader’s skills.

Origin of Situational Leadership

The situational leadership concept was created by leadership specialists  Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard and published in their best-selling 1969 book, Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources. Millions of copies of this book have been sold, and it has had a significant impact on the corporate world. Several Fortune 500 firms all around the world have implemented the Hersey Blanchard approach since its inception.

The situational leadership theory is extensively recognized throughout the business and leadership communities, and both Blanchard and Hersey have played key leadership positions in business theory. A theory that equips business leaders with the knowledge and degree of preparation to alter their industries. 

Four Styles of Situational Leadership

There are four leadership styles in the situational leadership approach. Depending on the productivity of the team or team member,  any one of these options may be chosen.

S1: Telling

When a team or a team member needs constant monitoring and direction, telling or directing is helpful. This usually happens in the directive leadership style by exercising strong directive behavior and low supporting behavior for the work at hand. The leader takes decisions and controls the team or members of the team. This means mentoring less qualified team members or assuming control in an emergency.

Also, Read About: Collaborative vs Directive Leadership – Which One is Better?

S2: Selling

When a team or team member is unwilling yet able to do the assignment, selling or convincing is helpful. The leader fosters two-way communication and rewards modest accomplishments to increase the team’s or individual’s engagement. This kind of leadership can assist team members in learning new talents or improving existing ones. This approach may also help people get into the bigger picture.

S3: Participating

When a team or team member has the necessary skills to do the work but lacks confidence or is hesitant, participating or sharing is helpful. To boost team confidence, leaders use a more democratic leadership style, allowing their employees to provide suggestions in their areas of competence.

S4: Delegating

When a team or team member has a high degree of talent, confidence, and self-motivation, delegating is beneficial. These leaders will establish a vision, list desired results, and delegate responsibility clearly and understandably. They will then adopt a more accommodating and collaborative style, stepping aside and allowing their team to handle the situation.

Situational Leadership

Characteristics of Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is strengths-based and is closely related. It entails evaluating team members to determine the optimal style of leadership for them. The entire team will function more efficiently as a result of situational leadership. The following are the characteristics of situational leadership:

1) Flexible

In situational leadership, there is no one defined method to lead. The style varies depending on what is required to complete the task. The situational leader places greater emphasis on tasks when a team or individual’s growth level is low. The leader will take on a more supportive role if the people are sufficiently developed. 

2) Coaching

Situational leaders coach their team members. When guiding a project, the leader will also provide support and nurturing, which are advantageous for both the employee and the job at hand. The situational leader is aware that a well-coach employee will invariably perform better. 

3) Competent in Delegation

A situational leader’s most trusted advisor may be delegating. When a team is given the flexibility to do a task independently, they feel more empowered and motivated to perform at their best. Additionally, by giving the team this flexibility, the team leader can concentrate on other duties because they are not always required to participate in the daily tasks of the team. 

4) Leading with Integrity

Situational leaders are deliberate and strategic thinkers.  They must adjust their management approaches based on the circumstances, they consider the maturity and preparedness of the team members, the structure and culture of the company, and the objectives to be met. 

5) Effective Management

Situational leaders who are effective at management can tell right away when they need to oversee and when they can relax and back off. For instance, the team leader needs to constantly supervise and give detailed instructions on company goals and how they should be achieved to new team members who are still learning how to operate. 

6) Insightful and Reliable

The demands of teams and team members are understood by skilled situational leaders, who can quickly modify their management approach to meet those needs. Additionally, they can win the trust of their followers, which requires a great level of maturity.

7) Problem-solving

Situational leadership offers managers the chance to work on issues with their staff. These issues could be related to how to most smoothly integrate a newcomer or how to get one team member ready for future leadership responsibilities. Situational leaders accept these problems and make every attempt to find workable solutions.

8) Assistance

By being adaptable to employees, situational leaders could help others. Someone who is committed to servant leadership is a situational leader. For them, leadership is not about the status or benefits that come with it. Instead, since it’s better for the team, they want to help others and satisfy their needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Situational Leadership 

Situational leadership takes into account the shifting demands of team members and the dynamic nature of organizations. It underlines how crucial it is to modify one’s leadership approach according to the scenario at hand and the employees’ stage of growth. Situational leadership has certain advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. The following are the advantages and disadvantages of situational leadership:

Advantages of Situational Leadership

  • Establishes a common performance language.
  • Explains the several directions of the outcome.
  • Uses job specificity as a performance indicator rather than typecasting workers.
  • Enables leaders to successfully influence behavior change.
  • Increases staff development quality and speed.
  • Teaches leaders how to correctly understand their surroundings and how to act accordingly.

Disadvantages of Situational Leadership

  • Constant changes in the leading approach might confuse.
  • Focused on short-term goals and ignore long-term objectives.
  • It frequently does not perform well when recurring tasks need to be finished.
  • Some leaders may choose a leadership strategy that is inappropriate for a certain team or person.
Examples of Situational Leadership

Examples of Situational Leadership

1) John Wooden

John Wooden is the former UCLA men’s basketball coach. He was regarded by many as among the finest in American history. The Bruins won 10 titles under his direction, including seven straight. Despite having a club that was continually shifting, they were able to compile an 88-game winning streak throughout three seasons.

Wooden’s proverb, “When you’re through learning, you’re through,” captures his capacity and willingness to modify his leadership approach in response to shifting team dynamics and player requirements.

2) Dwight D. Eisenhower

During World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower served as the top Allied commander. Following that, he was elected President of the United States. His ability to use several leadership philosophies in each circumstance is frequently cited as the reason for his success in each of these jobs. He earned a reputation for the war for being able to reconcile “the egos and interests of a galaxy of generals and political leaders.” He was also reputed to stroll among the soldiers, extending handshakes and lifting morale.

He was a remarkable diplomat and leader because of his capacity for adapting to different circumstances and individuals.

Learn Situational Leadership with the Best Diplomats

Situational leadership, when used properly, may be an effective tool for achieving success in today’s dynamic enterprises by fusing adaptation, communication, and employee empowerment. You can learn about situational leadership through many platforms, including Best Diplomats. Best Diplomats is a leadership and diplomacy learning platform operating internationally, providing excellent opportunities to people wanted to become effective leaders in the future. 

Learn Situational Leadership with the Best Diplomats

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Situational leadership is an effective strategy for managers who want to improve team performance and foster employee growth. Because of its adaptability, leaders can modify their advice and assistance to suit the particular requirements of each person and scenario. Situational leadership can produce a workforce that is more engaged and productive by encouraging open communication, encouraging skill development, and changing leadership approaches. However, it’s critical to be aware of the possible difficulties, such as the difficulty of evaluating situational elements and the danger of placing too much dependence on the leader. 


When situational leadership works best?

Situational leadership works best when productivity counts, flexible strategies are needed, and adaption to constant changes is required. 

When situational leadership is not the best option?

Situational leadership does not work when the goals to work on are long term as situational leadership is good for short-term goals. It does not work when the team needs uniform policies. Situational leadership sometimes does not need input from everyone, so in a case where input from other team members is required, situational leadership does not work. 

What fundamental elements make up the situational leadership theory?

The leadership style which is employed, the team members’ developmental stage, the leader’s flexibility, communication with the group, and the achievement of the group’s objectives are crucial elements in situational leadership theory.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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