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What is Situational Leadership?

May 2, 2024

What is Situational Leadership?

Situational leadership is a flexible and adaptive leadership style that proposes the need for leaders to adjust their management approach based on the situation or the developmental level of their team members. This concept was developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the late 1960s and has since become a popular framework used by managers in various industries around the world.

Core Concepts of Situational Leadership

The essence of situational leadership lies in its adaptability. Leaders assess the needs of their team and apply the most appropriate leadership style to respond to those needs effectively. The model categorizes the readiness of followers based on their competence and commitment levels, leading to four distinct leadership styles:

1. Directing: Used when followers are low in competence but high in commitment. Leaders need to give clear and specific directions and closely supervise the performance.
2. Coaching: Appropriate when team members are somewhat competent but lack commitment. This style involves a high level of direction and high level of support.
3. Supporting: Best suited when followers have high competence but variable commitment. Leaders provide less direction and more supportive behaviours.
4. Delegating: Effective when the team is both highly competent and highly committed. Leaders pass on responsibility for decisions and implementation to the followers.

Benefits of Situational Leadership

The adaptability of situational leadership offers several benefits:
– Flexibility: Leaders can adjust their style depending on the task requirements and the team’s needs, leading to more effective management.
– Enhanced Communication: Tailoring leadership style to the team’s readiness ensures that communication is more efficient and effective.
– Increased Engagement: By addressing team members’ specific developmental needs, leaders can boost motivation and engagement.
– Development of Team Members: Situational leadership helps in identifying and nurturing the potential of employees by providing appropriate support and challenges.

Implementing Situational Leadership

Implementing situational leadership involves several steps:
– Assessing Team Members: Leaders must evaluate the competence and commitment of their team members to identify their readiness levels.
– Selecting the Right Style: Based on the assessment, leaders choose the most suitable leadership style to address the current situation.
– Flexibility and Adjustment: Leaders need to remain flexible and ready to switch their leadership style as team members’ development levels change.
– Feedback and Communication: Continuous feedback and open communication are essential to ensure that the chosen leadership style is effective.


Situational leadership stands out due to its dynamic nature, allowing leaders to cater to the diverse needs of their team members. By effectively applying this leadership style, leaders can enhance team performance, foster professional growth among team members, and achieve organisational goals more efficiently. Whether you are leading a small team or a large organisation, understanding and applying the principles of situational leadership can lead to significant improvements in how you manage and influence others.

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