Blanchard and Hersey Situational Leadership Model | Situational Leadership Example
What is Situational Leadership Model?
Situational Leadership Model is a type of leadership style based upon a relationship between an individual´s development level on a specific goal or task and the leadership style that the leader provides. It also states that the leader’s chosen style should be based on competence and commitment to the task.
The situational leadership model’s fundamental principle is that there is no single “best” style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those who adapt their leadership style to the competence and willingness of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence.
Blanchard and Hersey Situational Leadership Model
Situational Leadership Theory was developed over several stages in its basic form. It was developed in a collaboration between two Americans, namely behavioral researcher Paul Hershey and Ph.D. in leadership Kenneth Blanchard.
They developed the theory while working on the book Management of Organizational Behavior. The theory was introduced in 1969 as the lifecycle theory of leadership.
During the mid-1970s, the theory was renamed Situational Leadership Theory.
In late 1970, the early 1980s, Hershey and Blanchard developed their own slightly divergent versions of the situational leadership theory.
In 1985 Kenneth Blanchard introduced Situational Leadership to also called the SL II theory, in the book A Situational Approach to Managing People.
The theory is about leadership and not management; therefore, the person in charge in this theory is called a leader and not a manager.
The purpose of the theory is to make it easier for the leader to choose the right leadership style for the individual employees.
Effective leadership lies in matching the appropriate leadership style to the individual employees’ need for guidance and support to achieve a specific goal or solve a task.
The starting point for the leader’s leadership style choice must always be the individual employees’ need for leadership. The leadership style towards the individual employees can therefore vary over time.
Situational Leadership II theory consists of two approaches.
In the upper part of the model, there is a matrix with four leadership styles. According to the theory, the leader must choose one of these four styles. At the bottom of the model, there are four development levels. According to the model, the employee is placed in one of the levels.
The first part of the review is The Matrix, with the four leadership styles. In the upper part of the model, there are two basic leadership style behaviors.
- Directive behavior on the horizontal X-axis
- Supportive behavior on the vertical y-axis
Situational Leadership Directive Behavior.
In directive behavior, the leader tells and shows the employees what to do, when to do it, How to do it, and providing frequent feedback on results.
It is very much about one-way communication from the leader to the employees
Situational Leadership Supportive Behavior
in supportive behavior, the leader takes on a different role. The leaders support, perform active listening, and facilitate the employees to make decisions themselves, and the leader provides constructive feedback.
The leader helps the employees to become an active part of the decision-making process. This is a two-way communication where the leader involves the employees. Both dimensions are going from low to high.
This two-by-two matrix contains four leadership styles. Each style is reviewed in the following sections.
Style One: Situational Leadership Directing Style (S1)
- It consists of high directive behavior and low Supportive behavior.
- The leader provides specific direction about goals, shows and tells how, and closely tracks the individual’s performance to provide frequent feedback on results.
Style Two: Situational Leadership Coaching Style (S2)
- It consists of high directive behavior and high supportive behavior.
- The leader explains why he solicits suggestions, encourages, and continues to direct goal or task accomplishment.
Style Three: Situational Leadership Supporting Style (S3)
- It consists of low directive behavior and high supportive behavior.
- The leader of the employees makes decisions together. The role of the leader is to facilitate, listen, draw out, encourage and support.
Style Four: Situational Leadership Delegating Style (S4)
- It consists of low directive behavior and low supportive behavior.
- The employee makes most of the decisions about what, how and when
- The role of the leader is to value the individual’s contributions and support his or her growth.
According to the theory, the leader has four possible leadership styles to choose from. In all four styles, the leader is responsible for setting the goals staying connected with the employee and giving feedback. The optimal use of the four leadership styles depends on the employees’ level of development.
Situational Leadership Development Levels (D1,D2,D3,D4)
The second approach of the theory—the four Situational Leadership development levels at the bottom of the model.
The individual employee is placed in one of these four levels. The individual employees’ development level is determined by the employee’s experience with the task and the motivation to solve the task.
The scale of the development goes from right to left, from developing to developed.
The development level is a combination of two factors.
- The competence of the employees
- the commitment of the employees.
Situational Leadership Competence of the Employee
The employees demonstrated task-specific and transferrable knowledge and skills on a goal or task and
Situational Leadership Employees’ Commitment.
Commitment, the individual’s motivation and confidence in a goal or task.
There are four development levels. The development level is goal or task-specific. It is not an overall rating of the individual skills or attitude.
The levels are reviewed now from developing to developed. That is, from right to left.
Development Level One; Low Competence High Commitment
- The employee is enthusiastic.
- The employee has low competence.
- The employee is new to the goal or task and is therefore inexperienced.
- The employee doesn’t know what he or she does not know.
- The employee has high commitment.
- The employee is excited and eager to learn.
- The employee is confident learning won’t be difficult.
Development Level Two; Middle-Level Competence Low Commitment
- The employee is a disillusioned learner.
- The employee has low to middling competence.
- The employee has some knowledge and skills the employee is learning but not competent.
- Yet, the employee has inconsistent performance and progress.
- The employee has a low commitment.
- The employee is discouraged.
- Frustrated, may be ready to quit.
- The employee is overwhelmed, demotivated, confused, and concerned.
- The employee is afraid of making mistakes.
Development Level Four: High Competence and Variable Commitment
- The employee is a capable but cautious contributor.
- The employee has moderate to high competence.
- The employee demonstrates competence and experience.
- The employee makes productive contributions.
- The employee is generally skillful and depth.
- The employee has variable commitment.
- The employee is sometimes hesitant.
- The employee is not always confident and tends to be self-critical.
- The employee may also be bored or apathetic.
Development Level Four: High Competence and High Commitment
- The employee is a self-reliant achiever.
- The employee has high competence.
- The employee is consistently competent.
- Others recognize the employee as an expert.
- The employee has high commitment.
- The employee is autonomous.
- The employee is self-assured and justifiably confident.
- The employee is inspired and inspires others.
The competence and the commitment of the employees about the task or goal determine which of the four levels of development the employee is placed in.
The connection between the two approaches; the development levels of the employees and the four leadership styles the leader can choose between
The leader must assess the employee’s placement in one of the four development levels and then choose the leadership style that suits the individual employees.
We now look at the model as a unit and explain what leadership style is the optimal choice in connection with the employee’s development level.
There are four ideal matches between the employees’ level of development and the leadership style the leader should choose.
D1-S1 ( High directive behavior and low supportive behavior)
The employee is at development level D1-low competence and high commitment. The leader must therefore use the directing leader Style S1 – High directive behavior and low supportive behavior.
The leader must help the employees to achieve the competencies needed for the job, but the leader does not need to motivate the employees. The employee is highly committed to himself.
D2-S2 (High directive behavior and high supportive behavior)
The employee is at development level D 2- low to some competence and low commitment. The leader must therefore use the coaching leadership style S2- High directive behavior and high supportive behavior.
The leader must train the employee’s professional ability to solve the task and motivate the employee to want to solve the task. It can require a great deal of effort on the leader’s part, especially if their arm or employees at this particular development level.
D3 -S3 ( Low directive behavior and high supportive behavior)
The employee is a development level D3- moderate to high competence and variable commitment. The leader must therefore use the supporting leadership style S3 low directive behavior and high supportive behavior.
The leader knows that the employees can solve the task, but they are a little unsure of their own ability to solve the task. The leader must therefore support the employees to build confidence in solving the task.
D4 -S4 ( Low directive behavior and low supportive behavior)
The employee is a development level D4 with High competence and high commitment. The leader must therefore use the delegating leadership style S4 low directive behavior and low supportive behavior.
The employee can solve the task and is keen to solve it. The employee is the expert in this field, and the employees and the leader know this. Therefore, the leader must delegate the task to the employees and give the employees a free hand to solve it.
Situational Leadership Mismatch Situations
If the leader judges the individual employees’ development level incorrectly or cannot exhibit the right leadership style, a mismatch situation occurs. There are two types of mismatch.
Situational Leadership Oversupervision
Here the leader will exhibit much more directive behavior or supportive behavior than the employee needs. And an (S1/S2/S3 -D4), S-one, S two, and S three leadership styles are all three a mismatch towards an employee at D four Development level.
- S1-D4 is too much directive behavior
- S3-D4 is too much supportive behavior
- S4-D4 is both too much directive and supportive behavior.
The employee at D for development level will feel that the leader does not believe that the employee is motivated for the task when the leader shows too much supportive behavior. The employee will feel that his expertise is underestimated by too much directive behavior.
Situational Leadership Under supervision
The leader will exhibit two little directive behavior and supportive behavior compared to the needs of the employees.
S Four leadership style (S4-D1, D2, D3) toward an employee who is placed in either the D-one, the D two, or the d three development level is a case of under supervision.
- The S four leadership style towards an employee place that D 1 development level lacks directive behavior
- S four leadership style towards the D three development level lacks supportive behavior.
- S four leadership style towards D to development level lacks both directed behavior and supportive behavior.
In the absence of directive behavior from the leader, the employee lacks knowledge of what to do to fulfill the task. In the absence of supportive behavior, the employee is not motivated enough by the leader.
In the model, there are a total of 16 combinations between leadership styles and development levels.
Of these, four are a correct match, and the other 12 are mismatches.
As a leader, you can use the model to match your leadership style with each of your employee’s needs for leadership.
You must be aware that the employees continuously move in the model, depending on which task or goal you set for them.
There is no best leadership style; it depends on the situation.
Situational Leadership Theory Model Example
As a leader, hire a new employee. He has just finished his education. It is your responsibility to develop a good employee in the long run.
The employee is pleased to get a job and therefore very motivated.
The employee does not consider it difficult to acquire the necessary skills for the job. Therefore, you judge him as a development level D 1 and choose the leadership style s one where you direct the employees. You give direction about what, how, and when. You also check in frequently about the progress of the task.
After a while, you notice that the employee is a little frustrated that it takes much longer to understand the company’s systems and tasks than the employees had imagined.
You reevaluate the level of development of the employees D2. Competence is higher than initially, but the motivation has dropped a lot; you, therefore, choose leadership style S2. Where you coach the employees, you explain why and involve the employees in problem-solving.
You redirect and re-teach, you follow the employee closely for a while, and you can see that the employees understand a lot more than it first but lacks a great deal of confidence.
Therefore, you now evaluate him to the level of development D3. You, therefore, select leadership style S3 where you support the employees.
You become more responsive and supportive of the choices Theo employee makes; you ask the employee for input about what and how you help build confidence.
A little further in the process, you find that the employees no longer consult you and are confident in their choices.
The employee has gained more confidence in the employees’ selection of solutions impresses you. You now see the employees as being at development level 4D
You, therefore, choose leadership style S4. You delegate more competence and responsibility to the employees. You recognize the employee’s expertise and used the employee for difficult tasks so that the employees are challenged and not bored.
As a leader, you must implement a new software system. Here you can easily be in the situation that your employees are placed on development level D4 move to Level D1, D2, and D3.
You need to identify the new development level and then change your leadership style towards the employees. It is a never-ending story.
Situational Leadership Advantages and Disadvantages
Criticism of The Situational Leadership Theory Model.
- It is expected that it is always possible to place an employee at one of the four development levels. If conditions in the organization or the surroundings change very quickly, this can be difficult.
- The theory does not consider that an employee works with multiple tasks and goals at the same time and therefore can be at more than one level of development.
- At the same time, the theory does not consider that employees are different and express their lack of competence or commitment differently.
- The theory does not question whether the leader is capable of leading in all four leadership styles.
Pros of The Situational Leadership Theory Model.
- The theory is an excellent tool for the leader who would like to perform situational leadership. It provides a quick overview of the employee’s development level and the ability to adapt the leadership style to the individual employees continuously.