We’ve had several managers throughout our careers, but the ones we remember the most are those who were supportive and understanding at different levels. Those managers who adapt their leadership style to their team’s needs are taking a situational leadership approach.
When your team members have different levels of expertise, they require different management styles. That may sound like common sense, but in practice, it could be a little more challenging for some people.
The goal of the situational leadership model is to train managers to be more flexible, especially in a rapidly changing business environment, so that they can effectively deal with any issues in their team and organization.
But before we dive into the four development levels and management style proposed by the Situational Leadership Model (SLII®), let me explain what situational leadership is.
What is Situational Leadership?
Managing groups of people with different levels of competence and commitment are what managers deal with on a daily basis. No "one size fits all" leadership style can properly solve every issue they face with their team members.
Great managers know the complexities of working with people. Every person has a different background, personality, learning style, motivators, and experience. Being able to adjust your management style to these variables will make you a great leader.
Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey developed the Situational Leadership Theory (SLII®) in 1969 with the idea of adapting people's management styles to unique situations or tasks to meet the team's and the organization's goals.
This approach provides four management styles; however, only 1% of leaders are proficient in all of them. Research also shows that 54% of leaders use only one leadership style, regardless of the situation, which means that 50% of the time, they use the wrong leadership style to meet the needs of their people. The results: Turnover, disengagement, diminished productivity, missed opportunities, and so on.
How can you fix that? The model provides a framework for leaders to identify the development level of each team member, so they can adapt their management style accordingly. The results: Meaningful connections with your team and better results for your organization.
Here are the four development levels and the leadership style suggested by the SLII® model that will help you direct, support, and empower your employees.
Four Development Levels
D1 – Enthusiastic Beginner: Low Competence - High Commitment. People who don’t have the skills required for a specific task but are highly motivated. They need clear and precise directions to successfully complete a task.
D2 – Disillusioned Learner: Low to Some Competence - Low Commitment. People who may have some skills but not fully developed. The issue here is they are not engaged with their job, so they need some coaching from their manager to grow their professional skills and engage them in the process.
D3 – Capable, but Cautious, Contributor: Moderate to High Competence - Variable Commitment. People with the required skills and even higher expertise but low confidence to perform their job. They need a manager to help empower them and grow their confidence.
D4 – Self-Reliant Achiever: High Competence - High Commitment. People who may be more skilled than the leader and have a high level of motivation. These team members need little guidance and work independently toward their goals.
These styles respond to the four development levels described above. The goal is for managers to use the corresponding leadership style and the right combination of directive and supportive behaviors to help their team thrive.
S1 – Directing: Focuses on building confidence. Demands high direction, close supervision, and regular guidance. Managers need to be ready to take charge in an emergency.
S2 – Coaching: This is about reconnecting and motivating team members, so managers give constant feedback and collaborate with employees to boost their participation. Requires high performance on directive and supportive behaviors to help people develop or improve their skills.
S3 – Supporting: The goal here is building confidence and competence through low directive and high supportive behaviors so team members participate in planning and decision-making. Every employee is in charge of their area of expertise but also contributes to other corporate projects.
S4 – Delegating: Requires low direction and supervision since team members have a high level of competence and are self-motivated. Managers need to outline the desired results and delegate the authority to perform the job.
When the model is appropriately applied, managers build real connections and meaningful relationships with their team members. Conversations about professional growth are the norm, and engagement and motivation are high, so everyone works towards the company's goals.
Five Qualities of a Situational Leader
Leaders adjust their management style according to their people’s needs to perform better. The objective is to bring out the best in the team to achieve corporate goals.
2. Active listener.
To understand and build real connections with their team, leaders need to listen to what they need to do a better job.
3. A clear sense of direction.
Leaders need to understand the level of direction and support each team member needs and when to take over if needed.
4. The ability to encourage participation.
Leaders create a safe space for everyone to participate, so they build their confidence and expand their experiences.
5. Coaching skills.
Depending on the development level of the team, leaders need to use a coaching approach to improve their team’s skill set. People will feel supported and empowered to fulfill their roles.
When you, as the manager, take the time to get to know your team and understand their learning styles and motivations, you can adjust your leadership style to get the best out of everyone. That’s what Situational Leadership is all about. You’re not only creating a great culture and workplace, but this will also benefit your career, team, and organization.
2/7/2023 12:56:57 pm
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