Situational leadership styles

Marilyn J. Corrigan, Leadership and Communications Consultant from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was one of the two presenters at my Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) training on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011.

In her 4 1/2 hour presentation titled “Dynamic Leadership,” Corrigan covered a lot of topics including characteristics of effective leadership, difference between effectiveness and success, good to great leadership (5 levels of leadership), managerial skills, situational leadership styles, DASR feedback methods, motivational theories, and effective listening skills.

Below and in the next few posts, I will share more details about some of these topics. I will start with  situational leadership styles.

The situational leadership model was developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard in
1969. In 1985 Blanchard refined the model and it was named The Situational Leadership II (SLII) model. It is one of the most well known models in leadership theory.

The Situational Leadership Model has two components – the Leadership Style and Development Level.

According to the situational leadership model, there is no one best leadership style. Effective leaders are the ones who are able to adapt their leadership style according to the situation – match the appropriate leadership style to the individual’s or group’s development level.

Leadership Style

Leadership style is explained in two different kinds of behavior: Supportive behavior and Directive Behavior.

  1. Supportive Behavior – This people-oriented behavior involves two way communication and focuses mainly on emotional and social support.
  2. Directive Behavior – This task-oriented behavior focuses on goals to be achieved and actions to be taken.

The leadership styles can be classified in four groups:

  1. Directing style/S1 – High directive, low supportive.
  2. Coaching style/S2 – High directive, high supportive.
  3. Supporting style/S3 – Low directive, high supportive.
  4. Delegating (Empowering) style/S4 – Low directive, low supportive.

Development Level

Development level refers to the follower’s degree of competence and commitment. The four levels describe several combinations on competence and commitment.

  1. D1 – Low competence, high commitment (don’t know what they don’t know).  Start with Directing Style (high directive, low supportive)
  2. D2 – Some competence, shaky commitment (overwhelmed by what they don’t know). Go to Coaching Style (High directive, high supportive)
  3. D3 – Moderate competence, moderate commitment (knowledgeable but not too motivated). Move to Supporting Style (low directive, high supportive)
  4. D4 – High competence, high commitment ((knowledgeable and motivated). Move to Delegating Style (low directive, low supportive).

Effective leadership lies in matching the appropriate leadership style to the development level. Otherwise there will be problems and conflicts.