Situational Leadership Styles

You may have learned all about situational leadership when you were in school.  But, the theory and the practice using good leadership skills don't always come together until you actually experience it. 

Here's an example:

Your child just signed up for an online class.  You both went over the coursework and set the expectations of when to complete each module. 

After one month, you check on his progress and find that he hasn't gone past the introduction. 

He said he didn't understand what they were asking and was afraid to ask for help.  Its not really his fault for not understanding.  Both of you need to take the blame. 

How could you have prevented this?  These types of mishaps happen because you, as a leader, don't use a style of leadership that fits how mature the person is.

Situational leadership stipulates that a manager or person of authority should change their styles of leadership based upon the situation and the maturity of their followers. 

This theory first came about with Dr. Paul Hersey, a professor and author of "The Situational Leader", and Ken Blanchard, the author of the "One-Minute Manager."

Situational Leadership

Depending on the maturity of the individual and the complexity of the task at hand, you need to determine the appropriate level and style of leadership that is needed to complete the work. 

If your employee or child isn't mature or knowledgeable enough to handle the task, then you need to spend more time on explaining what needs to be done and how. 

If he or she is very knowledgeable or mature about the task at hand, then you need to spend more time building the relationship and trusting that it will be completed satisfactorily.

Hersey and Blanchard came up with four maturity levels and four styles of leadership based upon the situational leadership theories.  Each level works well with the other.

Maturity Levels

Maturity 1 - People at this level do not have the knowledge or skills to do a task on their own.  They need to be encouraged and told to do the job.  Examples of this level are someone at their first job or a young child learning how to help around the house.


Maturity 2 - People here want to do the job, but haven't learned the skills necessary to do the job.  An example would be a young person wanting to learn to cook, but need the supervision of an adult.


Maturity 3 - People at this level want to do the job, have more skills than the M2 level, but can't quite do it on their own.  An example would be someone training to be a manager, but they aren't quite ready to run a store on their own.


Maturity 4 - People at this level have the knowledge and skills to work on their own without any supervision.  An example, would be a manager at a company taking over tasks in another person's job.


Styles of Leadership

Situational Leadership Theories suggest the different styles you use depend on the maturity level of the follower.


Style 1 - Telling - Leaders tell the workers what to do and how to do it.


Style 2 - Selling - Leaders still tell the workers what to do, but also sell their idea in order to get them to work along with them.


Style 3 - Participating - Leaders build relationships.  They work with the people and discuss ways to accomplish the task.


Style 4 - Delegating - Leaders give most of the responsibility to the worker and they just monitor the progress.


Hersey and Blanchard, using the situational leadership theories, came to the conclusion that you must use different styles of leadership based upon the maturity level of the one that is being led. 

If they have a low maturity level, then you use the telling or selling styles of leadership.  If their maturity level is higher, then you must form a relationship using either the participating or delegating styles of leadership.

Check out the great ideas on these pages...

Back To Leadership Theories From Situational Leadership

Return To Leadership Skill Development From Situational Leadership

Return To Personalized Leadership Home Page