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Leadership is described as the ability to motivate and make possible for others to realize shared goals. In the last century, several leadership styles and theories were formulated and analyzed (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Currently, there is no single theory that is perfectly suited for all circumstances.
Notably, the basic principles of leadership such as inspiring and directing others to realize shared goals underwent through little changes in the past decades. However, leadership context, complexity, and diversity in institutions progressed immensely in the last century (Bass & Riggio, 2006). For situational leadership theory, leaders are required to exhibit unique leadership styles in different circumstances.
Owing to its inherent flexibility, the advantages associated with this leadership theory overshadow its disadvantages. As such, this leadership theory is valid for both micro and macro economies and flexible to supporters at different expansion stages. This paper focuses on situational leadership style. In the paper, a brief overview, strengths, and weakness of the theory are highlighted.
A brief overview of the theory
Hersey and Blanchard formulated this type of leadership style in the year 1969 (Bass & Riggio, 2006). This type of leadership was formulated with the help of Reddin’s 3-D management style theory. According to the two experts, the major responsibility of any situational leader is to become accustomed to their individual leadership style and satisfy the followers’ needs.
To achieve the above, a situational leader should identify precisely the abilities and enthusiasms levels of his or her followers and lay down tasks, which are suitable with followers’ enthusiasms and abilities. With this leadership model, managers can choose from four leadership approaches. These approaches are characterised by combinations of task and relationship behaviour.
The situational leadership approach model categorizes a mixture of task and relationship behaviors into four quadrants. A dissimilar leadership method is required in each quadrant. In the first quadrant, high task and low relationship, the telling style is very commanding since the manager creates many contributions and least amount of relationship behavior.
Therefore, an autocratic leader would best depict this quadrant. In the second quadrant, high task and high relationship, the selling approach is also very commanding, however in a more influential behavior. Through this approach, the leader can offer substantial contributions towards task success and give emphasis to human relations.
In the third quadrant, high relationship and low task, less commands and more collaboration between the managers and the supporters’ styles are eminent. The advice-giving and agreement subtypes of participative leaders are best depicted in this quadrant. In the fourth quadrant, low relationship and low task, the manager hands over accountability for a chore to a supporter and he or she is just kept informed of the advancement.
As such, task behaviour entails employing one way of communication, delegating duties, and informing followers what is expected from them. Effective managers should know when to employ a high degree of task behaviour and when to employ a moderate degree of task behaviour depending on the circumstances (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
On the other hand, relationship behaviour requires a manager to employ two-way communication, listen, encourage, and involve supporters in decision-making processes. Just like in the task behaviour, effective managers should know when to employ a high degree of relationship behaviour and when to employ a moderate degree of relationship behaviour depending on the prevailing circumstances (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
As noted above, situational leadership style can be illustrated using four-squared matrix with distinctive phases. Based on this type of leadership style, an effective manager should be able to equalize the amount of direction given to building relationships, for the reason that individuals’ abilities and inspirations vary with time.
For instance, a situational leader ought to equalize high technology and high touch to match with vibrant times. As such, they should be passionate, honest, effective communicators, and possess appropriate judgment capabilities. Equally, situational Leadership style requires leaders to be flexible and be able to become accustomed to different situations and characters.
Strengths of situational leadership
The basic strengths of this type of leadership style are that it is authoritative and flexible in nature (Srivastava, 2003). This implies that situational leadership style can indicate to the manager what to do under different circumstances and characters.
For leaders, knowing who will perform a particular task and when it will be performed is very crucial for smooth operations. Given that leadership involves changes, this type of leadership style is suitable to varying situations. Usually, external and internal forces lead individuals, teams, and objectives vary.
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In this regard, effective situational leaders should be able to tackle and respond to any kind of change. This implies that unlike other leadership styles, situational leadership style is distinct, applicable, and rational. For example, a new team member might exhibit great interest towards the project; however, he may not be perfectly skilled for the project. Such a member will require appropriate guidelines during his earlier days in the project.
With time, the individual will master the project requirements hence little or no direction will be required. As time progresses, more motivation will be helpful when the individual develops some boredom towards the project as the task becomes monotonous and unchallenging. During this time, situational leaders should be able to re-evaluate task and relationship balances and implement appropriate direction and support.
Another advantage of situational leadership style is that it is prescriptive (Srivastava, 2003). However, it should be noted that it is flexible enough to allow individuals to equalize the amount of direction with the support followers require based on their abilities and enthusiasms. As such, this type of leadership style acknowledges the uniqueness that exists among team members.
In addition, situational leadership does not only values supporter’s strengths but also fosters and strives to improve on his or her weakness. Currently, diversity in our institutions and societies requires leaders to adopt the 21st century’s methods of situational leadership approaches. Equally, the diversity has augmented and reinforced the groups.
Additionally, situational leadership necessitates the leaders to be involved and understand the production and workers facets of the process for them to become accustomed to their individual behaviours. If a leader adopts situational leadership, he or she will be in touch with both the goal and the supporters seeking this goal. In this regard, it can be argued that situational leadership enhances connections.
In addition, this type of leadership style has tolerated reasonable test of time. For instance, over the last five decades the model has been applied in several sectors such as military, businesses organisations, and educational setups. In most of these contexts, the model has been accepted and is currently being utilized to address several challenges (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
The incidental nature of situational leadership style is that it mandates leaders to adapt their own conduct whenever the circumstances vary. Every time the relation between the supporters and the tasks vary, this type of leadership style enables the leaders to readjust their behaviours and acts to satisfy the new state of affairs. Therefore, if a leader applies the approach in consecutive estimates, he or she will be able to re-examine the extent of supervision and help the supporters require all through the continuum.
The shortcomings of situational leadership
One major disadvantage of this type of leadership style is that it necessitates sound judgments with regard to task’s acquaintance and human evaluation (Srivastava, 2003). In this regard, it should be noted that not all individuals possess the visualization, spirit, insight, power, persistence, or luck to lead in every circumstance regardless of their characters, abilities, or style.
Therefore, wrong detection of the supporters’ abilities and enthusiasms to complete a specific chore may interrupt the team’s development and demoralize the followers’ sense of worth. Equally, undervaluing or overvaluing of the team’s enthusiasms or abilities is unfavourable to goal realization of the goal.
On the other hand, if a leader misdiagnoses the readiness and loyalty of several team associates if could result in project breakdown. This implies that an effective situational leader should be educated appropriately in cognitive and psychosocial expansion hypothesis and be vigilant to dissimilarities that exist among follower because of pressures from sex, age, educational and ethnic uniqueness.
Similarly, situational leadership style necessitates the managers to have comprehensive knowledge of intellectual and developmental level of their supporters. In addition, the leadership style does not tackle crucial details such as the multifaceted factors affecting motivation. The model lacks appropriate tools for the managers to identify a group’s task skill or communal enthusiasms.
In this context, It is not possible for a manager to be acquainted with all the members of bigger the groups and subsequently analyse the followers’ recommendations since the supporters’ behaviours are based on fewer personal information. In this regard, situational leadership is appropriately appropriate for small groups rather than big groups in a large institution.
Since its development, situational leadership style has been adopted by various organizations, numerous supporters, and by a variety of managers, with varying achievements. Despite this success, it should be noted that s few official researches have been carried out to ascertain the effectiveness of this leadership model compared to other leadership models (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
A last shortcoming associated with this style of leadership relates to the inherent prejudice in the leadership surveys that support the model (Srivastava, 2003). The queries in the survey hinder the interviewee from selecting an appropriate answer that supports the leadership style. However, despite these weaknesses it should be acknowledged that the situational leadership model is a helpful tool when adopted correctly.
In conclusion, there are four distinct types of situational leadership styles. These are directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Similarly, situational leadership can be generalized into three steps. These steps are identifying the crucial tasks, diagnosing members’ readiness level, and settling on matching leadership style.
As illustrated above, the situational leadership model symbolizes an agreement of thinking about leadership behavior relative to group members. This leadership theory is valid for both micro and macro economies and flexible to supporters at different stages (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Similarly, As such, skilled individuals require less specific direction compared to less skilled individuals. The model is helpful since it bases its principles on other details of leadership that give emphasis to the role of task and relationship behaviors.
Because of this, it has demonstrated to be an effective basis of leadership training. Equally, the situational leadership approach supports common sense. Because of this, it is instinctively attractive. Leaders can gain from this model if they try to assess the willingness of their supporters before deciding on the appropriate leadership style. In general, the model allows leaders to become accustomed to their individual leadership style and satisfy the followers’ needs.
In spite of its impressive advantages, it should be noted that this leadership style has its shortcomings (Bass & Riggio, 2006). For instance, situational leadership style necessitates sound judgments with regard to task’s knowledge and human evaluation.
In this regard, it should be noted that not all individuals possess the visualization, spirit, insight, power, persistence, or luck to lead in every circumstance regardless of their characters, abilities, or style. Therefore, wrong detection of the supporters’ abilities and enthusiasms to complete a specific chore may interrupt the team’s development and demoralize the followers’ sense of worth.
Equally, the leadership style lacks appropriate tools for the managers to identify a group’s task skill or communal enthusiasms. In this context, It is impossible for a manager to be acquainted with all the members of bigger the groups and subsequently analyze the followers’ recommendations since the supporters’ behaviours are based on fewer personal information.
Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: L . Erlbaum Associates.
Srivastava, M. K. (2003). Transformational leadership. New Delhi: Macmillan India.