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Situational Leadership

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Situational Leadership refers to different styles of leadership for varied situations. There are four leadership styles, these styles are telling, selling, participating, and delegating. The most appropriate style for a leader to use depends on the current managerial situation at hand. The leadership style should adapt to meet the willingness, confidence, and competency of the subordinate. By using a Leader Behavior Analysis, the leader can identify much about their managerial style. In addition, a good understanding of Situational Leadership can explain much about our ability to manage well in any situation.

Leaders should adapt their style to employees' development style or maturity, based on how ready and willing the employees is to perform required tasks. There are four leadership styles (S1 to S4) that match the readiness levels (R1 to R4) of the followers. These four styles suggest that leaders should put greater or less focus on the task in question and/or the relationship between the leader and the follower, depending on the readiness level of the follower.

Assessing readiness has a number of benefits. First, it clarifies the strengths and weaknesses of the people you work with. Second, it will give you the information you need to develop others. Third, it helps you define potential people problems before they occur. Fourth, it will save you time.

Style 1 (S1): Telling / Directing - High task focus, low relationship focus:

Follower: R1: Low competence, low commitment / Unable and unwilling or insecure

When the employee is unable do the job and is afraid to try, then the leader takes a highly directive role, TELLING them what to do but without a great deal of concern for the relationship. The leader may also provide a working structure, both for the job and in terms of how the person is managed.

The leader may first find out why the person is not motivated and if there are any limitations in ability. They follower may also lack self-confidence as a result. If this should be case the S1 leader clearly provides specific instructions, defines the roles and tasks of the follower, and closely supervises task accomplishment. Decisions are made by the leader and announced to the followers, so communication style is largely one-way.

The S1 leadership style is most appropriate when the followers are inexperienced. For example when there is a large flow of new personnel into the organization, the directing leader should be very explicit in directing subordinates.

Style 2 (S2): Selling / Coaching - High task focus, high relationship focus

Follower: R2: Some competence, variable commitment / Unable but willing or motivated

When the employee can do the job, at least to some extent, and perhaps is over-confident about their ability in this, then 'telling' them what to do may un motivate them or lead to resistance. The leader thus needs to SELL another way of working, explaining and clarifying decisions. The leader thus spends time listening and advising and, where appropriate, helping the employee to gain necessary skills through coaching methods.

S3: Participating / Supporting



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