Created by professor and author Dr. Paul Hersey and author Ken Blanchard, the Situational Leadership Model is a theory of business leadership that promotes the benefits of combining a range of managerial styles to cater to different people within the same organization. This is opposed to the more traditional view of the executive manager who may employ the same leadership tactics across an entire organization, more than likely passing directives down through subordinates and other intermediaries.
But by employing the strategies put forth in the Situational Leadership Model, a manager would potentially have the capabilities to deal with a wide range of people and thereby create a more employee-centric and innovative organization through the level of direct contact he or she has with members at all levels. Further, the leader would be free to place more or less emphasis on a particular task as well as more or less emphasis on relationships with employees – enabling them to focus on the component most needed to get the task accomplished successfully.
The core foundation of the Situational Leadership Model is the belief that there is no single “best” approach to leadership. Instead, effective leadership is viewed as task-relevant. Therefore, the most successful leaders are the ones who are able to adapt their leadership styles across a broad range of varying maturity levels readily present within the average organization. Also factoring into the choice for leadership style are the individual employees’ willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task as well as their applicable education and experience.
Given the wide level of variance in these factors, choices surrounding leadership are highly subjective in regard to the person or workgroup that is being influenced as well as the specific job or function that has been assigned – a situation some say lends itself perfectly to the Situational Leadership Model.
Though it’s meant to provide extreme adaptability, there are four basic styles when it comes to the Situational Leadership Model, each custom-tailored to elicit the highest productivity from each employee or group.
As you’ll see, there is a clear distinction between productivity and employee development, with the first two styles (telling and selling) focused on accomplishing the task while styles three and four (participating and delegating) are more concerned with the personal development of team members.