A leadership style refers to a leader’s set of behavioral patterns using which they manage, direct, and motivate their employees towards a common vision. Hence, learning about the various leadership styles is important for every leader as it can improve leadership effectiveness, enhance communication between a leader and their employees, and increase flexibility in leadership approaches.
The Situational Leadership Model (SLM) is a leadership theory that emphasizes the importance of adapting one's leadership style to the needs and capabilities of their followers. According to the SLM, effective leadership is not a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, it varies depending on the situation and the followers involved. The model was developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the 1970s and has since become one of the most widely used leadership models.
The SLM proposes that the readiness level of followers is the key determinant of the most effective leadership style. Readiness level refers to the degree to which followers have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task or goal. Hersey and Blanchard identified four levels of readiness:
Directing (S1) : This style is appropriate when the follower is new to the task and lacks the skills and knowledge to perform the job. The leader provides a lot of direction, guidance, and support.
Coaching (S2) : This style is appropriate when the follower has some knowledge and skills, but still needs direction and guidance. The leader provides both direction and support.
Supporting (S3) : This style is appropriate when the follower has the skills and knowledge to do the job, but lacks the confidence or motivation to take on the responsibility. The leader provides support and encouragement.
Delegating (S4) : This style is appropriate when the follower has the skills, knowledge, and confidence to do the job. The leader provides little direction and support, and allows the follower to make decisions and take responsibility.
The model also identifies four readiness levels of the follower:
R1 - Unable and unwilling: The follower lacks the skills and knowledge, and is also unwilling or insecure about performing the task.
R2 - Unable but willing: The follower is motivated and willing to perform the task, but lacks the skills and knowledge to do so.
R3 - Able but unwilling: The follower has the skills and knowledge to perform the task, but lacks the confidence or motivation to take on the responsibility.
R4 - Able and willing: The follower has the skills, knowledge, and confidence to perform the task.
Based on the readiness level of the follower, the leader can determine which leadership style is most appropriate. The model emphasizes the importance of flexibility and adaptation, as different situations and followers may require different leadership styles.
The Situational Leadership Model is a valuable tool for leaders who wish to enhance their leadership effectiveness. By adapting their leadership style to the readiness level of their followers, leaders can improve communication, increase motivation, and achieve better results. The model emphasizes the importance of flexibility and adaptation, and recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. By understanding the different leadership styles and applying them appropriately, leaders can become more effective in achieving their goals and leading their teams towards success.