Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard inscribe fine piece of scholarly research papers and world class books. They formulated a model by the name of situational leadership theory and presented solutions for tremendous leadership styles while attaining the goals of the organization.
Hersey and Blanchard, situational leadership theory:
According to Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership model, an individual having leadership traits tend to adjust in accordance with the environment. Adjustments are made on the basis of follower maturity level i.e. the readiness to perform in a particular situation. Readiness specifically concerns with the ability and confidence level of the follower. Leaders identify whether they need to emphasize on task behaviors or responsibility behaviors in order to deal with the followers maturity level of employees, subordinates or team members.
Robin and Coulter (2007) presented four diverse and effective leadership styles:
· Delegating: Employees are allowed to make decisions related to specific task hence both relationship style and task behavior are low.
· Participating: Employees participate in important decisions and share ideas a well hence task behavior is low and relationship style is high.
· Selling: Leaders sell to employee in a way that they have to briefly explain the task direction and they must support and persuade the employees at every step. Here leaders delineate the roles and duties of followers and seek out ideas from them. It is little bit a two way communication process.
· Telling: Sometimes leaders must explain employee’s specific tasks to do and supervises each and every work very closely. Most of the emphasis is given to task behavior and relationship style is low. Leader clearly defines the duties and roles of followers and major decisions are made by leader itself and it is purely a one-way communication.
As the follower reaches the higher level of readiness, leadership control continuously decreases in terms of task behavior and relationship style. It further elaborates that the leaders must compensate for certain limitations like abilities and motivation of its followers. The leadership style focuses on the readiness level and development level. Four developmental levels are as follows:
– Employees are less competent but highly committed
– Several employees have low competency level and are not committed as well
– Many times subordinates are moderately competent and variably committed as well
– Numerous times employees seem highly competent and committed as well
Those leaders who adopt situational leadership style must have the ability to implement alternative styles as required in a particular environment. It requires understanding the maturity level of the employees in terms of readiness and implementing appropriate leadership style. An important research explained that when follower’s maturity level is high, leaders must use delegating style hence leader intervention is very low and employees having strong confidence, willingness and abilities are empowered to make chief decisions and perform specific tasks.
However if the maturity level of subordinates or employees is low then telling must be used as an effective technique and leaders must emphasize on task behavior. At this juncture the readiness level is low where instructions are given and the entire system is highly structured because followers lack capabilities or they might show unwillingness or insecure while performing a particular task. When the readiness level is low to moderate i.e. employees have the capabilities but reflect insecurity or unwillingness them key importance is given to participative style. Leaders give emphasis to relationship building and assists followers in understanding the task, gaining confidence hence sharing innovative and creative ideas with each other.
Leaders also opt for selling when the readiness level of the followers ranges from moderate to high. In such case employees reflect willingness and confidence in the task but lack capabilities. Therefore leaders persuasively explain the entire task and provide followers with clear task guidance.
Hersey and Blanchard further highlighted that leaders must be flexible so that change their leadership styles overtime. According to one research if appropriate styles are used during low readiness level then slowly and gradually employees gain maturity and they improve their abilities to perform specific tasks. The devotion towards prosperity and development of followers and responding to them in an effective manner results into less directive or instructive style as followers get mature. It is widely used in diversified management development programs. The demeanor remains with continuous learning approach where importance is given to training and development to further enhance task behavior as well as skills and confidence level (Schermerhorn 2008).
Implication of Situational Leadership theory in leading teams:
Reshma (n.d.) instigated that no single leadership style is applicable in a workplace situation. One must look for the style that best fits a particular situation hence it is highly dependent on the situation. One of the recent studies reveals that four components of communication play important role in situational leadership theory:
– Expectations must be communicated clearly in an effective manner
– Top management must listen to employees
– Superior should be delegating
– Higher management must provide feedback continuously to improve employees performance
Three situations have been highlighted that influence the leadership style:
– Level of control of leader in a particular organization and how they respond to different situations.
– More importantly situations have three times greater impact on an individual performance and play important role in shaping leaders behavior.
– One successful leadership style might fail in a different situation. A situation plays an important role in making out positive and negative impact on the consequences.
Hence one must clearly analyze and evaluate the key requirements of a situation and implement correct leadership styles. Natural abilities also facilitate a lot therefore leaders must look into their intrinsic values.
Nicholls (1993) stated that leadership requires consistent approach with conformity to key facts. Leaders must transform from parent to developer and a balance must be maintained between task and relationship behavior along with the abilities and willingness to perform in a particular environment.
Lande and Conte (2009) instigated that the maturity level of subordinates depends on work related knowledge, skills and ability. Gaining experience in terms of promotion, success, skill or confidence plays an important role.
The critical perspective:
Kasch Associates (2009) explained that competencies and skills are not inherited from ancestors. It analyzed task behavior and reveals that there exist several task actions which must be performed and it requires understanding individual subordinate and team member closely so that proper responsibilities can be assigned to individuals. It requires controlling and supervising whether employees perform the task effectively and efficiently. It highlighted several socio economic variables and said that leaders must minimize the distance and try to cultivate collaboration and integrate and foster two way communications between leader and the follower.
It clearly defined maturity as the willingness and ability of followers to perform a particular task. It comprises of both psychological maturity as well as job maturity. Job maturity pertains to ability, knowledge and skills whereas psychological maturity assumes that the follower owns a particular task and reflects motivation to further enhance the quality of the work and augment the norms and values related to self respect and self confidence.
According to Article Base (2009) it requires considering readiness level, development level and leadership styles for boosting the performance and effective leadership. Those leaders who perform in group must be flexible and must provide psychological space to individuals so that they can progress. Nevertheless the rate and degree of maturity continuum varies across subordinates therefore leaders must respond in a customize manner and it clearly highlights the importance of intuitive appeal.
Strict supervision stagnant the performance therefore superiors must opt for benefit/cost ration and continuously add value to the performance of the team hence superiors must formulate appropriate structural policies and behavior in accordance with the internal customers needs and requirements. Emphatic listening is the realm and in order to build long term relationship and commitment with subordinates.
It can be concluded that there exists both pros and cons in the model. Nonetheless dynamic management firms and institutions draw on the approach and formulate strategic solutions. It requires holistic approach. The paradigm remains with principle centered loom and proactive approach. Both the lessons and experience are gained gradually and leaders can facilitate and assist subordinates and the champion followers lead to efficient and effective performance if leadership styles are adopted in a systematic and consistent manner.