Adaptive Leadership: A Situational and Servant-Leadership Approach

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Leadership is a dynamic and multifaceted concept that plays a pivotal role in shaping organizational outcomes. In today's complex and ever-evolving environment, effective leadership is more crucial than ever. This essay explores my personal leadership style, which draws inspiration from the Situational Theory of Leadership and incorporates elements of servant-leadership. By adapting my leadership approach to the specific circumstances and fostering a sense of community and shared decision-making, I aim to be an effective manager in the face of challenges and changes.


Leadership is a social influence process where an individual seeks the participation of subordinates to achieve organizational goals (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.346). The role of a leader has become increasingly challenging due to factors such as corporate greed, government pressures, and individual corruption. While history offers examples of great leaders like Martin Luther King and George Washington, it is important to recognize that leadership is not inherently good or bad. As Barbara Kellerman notes, leaders, like everyone else, can possess both positive and negative traits (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.

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Great leaders can be found in various contexts, and some have harnessed their influence for personal gain, as seen in the examples of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all leaders are inherently virtuous (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.346). In the realm of leadership, there are numerous styles and theories that individuals and organizations can adopt. In this essay, I will explore my personal leadership style, which is primarily based on the Situational Theory of Leadership, incorporating elements of servant-leadership and adaptability.

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My Leadership Style

Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept; instead, it is a dynamic process that adapts to the specific context and challenges faced. My personal leadership style is rooted in the Situational Theory of Leadership, emphasizing adaptability and flexibility to suit varying circumstances.

The Situational Theory of Leadership

The Situational Theory posits that the effectiveness of a leader's behavior depends on the specific situation at hand (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.346). As a retail manager responsible for overseeing 103 employees, my leadership style constantly evolves to meet the ever-changing demands of the retail environment. This dynamic landscape presents challenges such as evolving rules and regulations, personal employee challenges, and customer issues.

I find resonance with Fiedler's Situational Model of Leadership, which hinges on two critical factors (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.352). The first factor is the extent to which the situation grants the leader control and influence, impacting the likelihood of successful task accomplishment. The second factor revolves around the leader's motivation, questioning whether their drive is towards task achievement or establishing close personal relations.

Based on these assumptions, my leadership style centers on building relationships. I firmly believe that fostering structured relationships with my employees instills confidence in me and my ability to lead effectively. For example, when faced with the challenging decision of reducing work hours, my established relationships with employees allowed me to communicate the necessity of this action more effectively. They understood and accepted this difficult decision, recognizing its importance for the store's overall well-being. This experience reinforces my belief that I have a significant degree of situational control within my organizational environment.

Situational control, defined as the "amount of control and influence a leader has in their environment" (Kinicki-Kreitner, p.352), is characterized by three dimensions: leader-member relations, task structure, and position power. In my case, I relate to all three dimensions, with leader-member relations being the highest. The strong relationships I have cultivated within my organization have fostered support, loyalty, and trust among both assistant managers and hourly employees.


In the contemporary economic and political landscape, leaders must embody a servant-leadership approach, emphasizing service to others and shared power (Spears, p.1). Larry Spears highlights that a great leader serves others by promoting a sense of community and involving employees in decision-making (p.1).

Within my organization, I strive to be a servant-leader by conducting daily huddles and actively seeking input from employees on various issues. This practice fosters a sense of involvement in the daily operations of the store and empowers employees to contribute to decision-making. An open heart is a crucial component of my leadership philosophy, as emphasized by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky in "Leading with an Open Heart" (p.2). Losing our capacity for innocence, curiosity, and compassion can lead to cynicism, arrogance, and callousness. Maintaining an open heart enables me to tackle challenges with empathy and resilience, ensuring that I do not become a dictator or resentful in my decision-making.


Leadership is a multifaceted and evolving concept, demanding adaptability and a nuanced approach. My personal leadership style draws inspiration from the Situational Theory of Leadership and incorporates elements of servant-leadership. As a retail manager overseeing a large team, I adapt my leadership style daily to navigate the ever-changing retail landscape. Building relationships, situational control, and servant-leadership are integral aspects of my leadership philosophy.

Effective leadership requires a holistic approach that emphasizes service to others, community-building, and shared decision-making. By embracing servant-leadership principles and maintaining an open heart, I aim to navigate the challenges of leadership with empathy, compassion, and resilience. Ultimately, the key to my leadership style lies in the structured relationships I build, which foster loyalty, respect, and confidence among my team members, enabling me to lead effectively in any situation.

Updated: Nov 06, 2023
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Adaptive Leadership: A Situational and Servant-Leadership Approach. (2016, Jun 05). Retrieved from

Adaptive Leadership: A Situational and Servant-Leadership Approach essay
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