Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Situational Leader Framework

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The 4 Leadership Styles of Situational Leadership

organisational development change management

. Situational leadership model (see above) places the focus on the person being supervised and makes leadership style contingent on the development stages of that person

. Situational leadership (SL) has several advantages

"...- SL suggests that effective leadership is a matter of style, not personality. This is important......because style can be taught, whereas personality cannot

- SL advocates a contingency approach to leadership. That is, leadership style is adapted to the needs of the situation......

- few people are born with natural ability - to modify their supervisory style to meet the needs of the person being supervised......SL has to be learned..."

Harry Onsman, 2004d

. SL is based on 4 distinct leadership styles emerge

i) directing (high directive and low supportive behaviour)

ii) coaching (high directive and high supportive behaviour)

iii) supporting (low directive and high supportive behaviour)

iv) delegating (low directive and low supportive behaviour)

. Each development stage derives from the combination of competence and commitment. Competence is a function of knowledge and skill, which in turn derive from training and experience. Commitment is a function of confidence and motivation. Thus the 4 development stages are: enthusiastic beginner, disillusioned learner, cautious contributor and self-reliant achiever

- enthusiastic beginner - low competence and high commitment. Staff can be highly motivated but not necessarily very competent. They need a high level of direction in order to learn to do their job and gain competence. Thus managers play a critical role in directing staff to increase their level of competence

- disillusioned learner - some competence and low commitment. Staff member has started to realise the frustrations of the job, ie confronting the difficulties and complexities. Thus the manager needs to provide additional coaching plus encouragement and support to staff

- cautious contributor - high competence and variable commitment. Staff member has acquired a high degree of competence but is not fully confident to succeed on his/her own. Thus managers need to support staff by encouraging them to make their own decisions and to help facilitate the courses of action by the staff

- self-reliant achiever - high competence and high commitment. The staff member is fully competent and committed; as a result, he/she can work on their own alone with very little supervision. Thus the manager can delegate the task with full confidence, knowing that it will be completed well

. Thus effective managers are able to supply staff with things that staff cannot supply themselves, ie

"...- if competence is lacking, then the manager provides direction and guidance, coupled with close follow-up

- if commitment is lacking, then the manager provides support and advice to increase the level of commitment

- if both competence and commitment are lacking, the manager provides direction, guidance, support and advice

- if both competence and commitment are present, the manager provides less and less direction, guidance, support and advice......

The process of developing competence and commitment involves five steps

i) tell the employee what the task is

ii) show the employee how to do the task

iii) let the employee try the task

iv) observe the employee's performance

v) praise the employee's progress ... "

Harry Onsman, 2004d

. Remember: situationality applies to tasks, not to jobs; it is a collaborative process between manager and staff

. A variation of the situational leadership framework identifies 6 types of leadership

- directive (entails strong, sometimes coercive behaviour)

- visionary (focuses on clarity and communication)

- affiliative (emphasizes harmony and relationships)

- participative (focuses on collaborative and democratic approaches)

- pace-setting (characterized by personal heroics)

- coaching (focuses on long-term development and mentoring)

There is no one best style of leadership; each has its strengths and limitations. The most appropriate leadership style depends upon the situation and context.

(sources: Blanchard et al, 1986; Harry Onsman, 2004d; Scott Speier et al, 2006; Larry Bossidy, 2007)


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