Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Situational Leadership Overview

As I was looking for something to read on my bookshelf at home, I came across some study material that I kept from a workshop I attended when I was a sales manager for T-Mobile, and I've decided to share this with everyone over the next few posts.

It's called "Situational Leadership," and it was created by a gentleman named Ken Blanchard (FYI, anyone who's read the books "The One Minute Manager" or "Whale Done" knows Mr. Blanchard's work). Because this was designed with leadership in mind, the model can be applied to all walks of life: work, home, class, church, etc.

To give you an general idea, here's some of the overview taken directly from my participant's workbook:
Situational leadership is a language and a strategy for reaching agreements with others about what they need from you in order to develop their skills, motivation, confidence, and ability to contribute to the organization's a result...leaders and the people they manager and influence become more skillful, adaptable, and are open to new challenges.

In a nutshell, this model allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you're dealing with, and then adopt the most appropriate leadership style. There are 4 leadership styles discussed in this model:

  • Directing (referred to as "S1" in the model) Leaders define the roles and tasks of the 'follower', and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one-way.

  • Coaching (S2) Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way.

  • Supporting (S3) Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is with the follower.

  • Delegating (S4) Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.

The key is that effective leaders should be able to to move from one style to another depending on the situation; hence, there is no one best style. With that said, the right leadership style is dependent on the person being led, and this model also includes corresponding development levels.

  • The Enthusiastic Beginner (D1) The individual is enthusiastic and excited about the goal or task but lacks the skill and experience. (low competence, low commitment)
  • The Disillusioned Learner (D2) The individual has some experience and skills relevant to the goal or task but may be frustrated by not meeting expectations. (some competence, low commitment)
  • The Capable, but Cautious, Performer (D3) The individual has pretty good experience and capability but may not be properly motivated due to their shaky confidence. (high competence, variable commitment)
  • The Self-Reliant Achiever (D4) The individual is an expert at the goal or task (maybe more skilled than the leader himself), is confident in his/her ability and highly motivated. (high competence, high commitment)
Just like leadership styles, development levels are also situational. A perfect example in the martial arts is that a purple belt student may be rated at D4 for the green belt kata since they've mastered those skills but be rated a D1 at their current level since they've just promoted and hasn't learned the required purple belt skills.

You should be able to see where this is going, and why it is important to match the leadership style to the corresponding development level. Just like you wouldn't have a yellow belt teach the entire class, you also likely wouldn't teach a 2nd dan black belt a white belt kata step by step as if they've never done it before. Over the next few posts, I'll talk more in depth about each leadership style and corresponding development level.

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