Back to Glossary

Definition of Situational Leadership:

Situational Leadership is an adaptive leadership style, wherein the leaders adopt a style that works best for the completion of the task at hand and the members and stakeholders involved and other factors that can help with the task. It is less about positional power and more about motivation and successfully achieving the goal. 

It is usually referred to as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory, after the authors, Dr. Paul Hersey, "The Situational Leader," and Kenneth Blanchard, "One-Minute Manager."
 

Primary Leadership styles by Hersey and Blanchard:

  • Telling - S1: Here, the leader guides and explains what is to be done and how it should be done. They set up the objectives for the team members. This is usually used when we need to set up a process for continuous results.
  • Selling - S2: The leaders are more involved in ‘selling’ the idea to the team members. Again, they set up the role objectives for the team members, but are open to suggestions and ideas. It is more about buying the teams’ cooperation and approval into the process. 
  • Participating - S3: It involves a lot of collaboration from the team members, wherein they take up an active role in decision making and the course ahead. The leader comes in to provide the push that is necessary for them to work better and offer solutions wherever needed.
  • Delegating - S4: Here, the leaders empower their team members to take decisions and responsibility. It is hands-off approach, providing more autonomy to team members.

Advantages of Situational Leadership:

  • Simple to implement and adapt. The leader has to test the scenario and select the leadership style
  • Flexible. The leader can change the leadership style as the task progresses or wanes. 
  • Comfort factor. The leader gets to choose a style that works for them and for the team. 
     

Cons of Situational Leadership:

  • Doesn’t take into consideration the long-term plans and strategies, since it is more of a momentous leadership

  • Doesn't take into account the difference between managers of different genders.

Resources

Related Terms