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Situational leadership theory

S3: Participating - this is how shared decisionmaking about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing fewer task behaviours while maintaining high relationship behavior;

The situational leadership (theory) model is a

leadership theory developed by Paul Hersey, professor
and author of the book The Situational Leader,[1] and
Ken Blanchard, leadership trainer and author of The
One Minute Manager, while working on the rst edition of Management of Organizational Behavior.[2] The
theory was rst introduced as Life Cycle Theory of
Leadership.[3] During the mid-1970s, Life Cycle Theory of Leadership was renamed Situational Leadership

S4: Delegating - the leader is still involved in decisions; however, the process and responsibility has
been passed to the individual or group. The leader
stays involved to monitor progress.

In the late 1970s/early 1980s, the authors both developed

their own models using the situational leadership theory; Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders
Hersey - Situational Leadership Model and Blanchard et to use all the time. Eective leaders need to be exible,
al. Situational Leadership II Model.[5]
and must adapt themselves according to the situation.
The fundamental underpinning of the situational leadership theory is that there is no single best style of leadership. Eective leadership is task-relevant, and the most
successful leaders are those who adapt their leadership
style to the maturity (the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility 2 Maturity Levels
for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of
an individual or a group for the task) of the individual or The right leadership style will depend on the person
group they are attempting to lead or inuence. Eective or group being led. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational
leadership varies, not only with the person or group that Leadership Theory identied four levels of maturity M1
is being inuenced, but it also depends on the task, job or through M4:
function that needs to be accomplished.[4]
The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model
rests on two fundamental concepts; leadership style and
the individual or groups maturity level.

M1 - They still lack the specic skills required for

the job in hand and are unable and unwilling to do or
to take responsibility for this job or task. (According
to Ken Blanchard The honeymoon is over)

M2 - They are unable to take on responsibility for

the task being done; however, they are willing to
work at the task. They are novice but enthusiastic.

Leadership styles

Hersey and Blanchard characterized leadership style in

terms of the amount of Task Behavior and Relationship
Behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They
categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types,
which they named S1 to S4:

M3 - They are experienced and able to do the task

but lack the condence or the willingness to take on

S1: Telling - is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader denes the roles of
the individual or group and provides the what, how,
why, when and where to do the task;

M4 - They are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They
are able and willing to not only do the task, but to
take responsibility for the task.

S2: Selling - while the leader is still providing the

direction, he or she is now using two-way communication and providing the socio-emotional support
that will allow the individual or group being inuenced to buy into the process;

Maturity Levels are also task-specic. A person might

be generally skilled, condent and motivated in their job,
but would still have a maturity level M1 when asked to
perform a task requiring skills they don't possess.






A good leader develops the competence and commitment of their people so theyre self-motivated rather than
dependent on others for direction and guidance.[1] According to Herseys book,[1] a leaders high, realistic expectation causes high performance of followers; a leaders
low expectations lead to low performance of followers. According to Ken Blanchard, Four combinations
of competence and commitment make up what we call
'development level.'"
D1 - Low competence and high commitment[5]
D2 - Low competence and low commitment
D3 - High competence and low/variable commitment
D4 - High competence and high commitment
In order to make an eective cycle, a leader needs to motivate followers properly.

Situational Leadership II

Hersey and Blanchard continued to iterate on the original

theory until 1977 when they mutually agreed to run their
respective companies. In the late 1970s, Hersey changed
the name from Situational Leadership Theory to Situational Leadership, and Blanchard oered Situational
Leadership Theory as A Situational Approach to Managing People. Blanchard and his colleagues continued
to iterate and revise A Situational Approach to Managing
People, and in 1985 introduced Situational Leadership II
In 1979, Ken Blanchard founded Blanchard Training
& Development, Inc., (later The Ken Blanchard Companies) together with his wife Margie Blanchard and a
board of founding associates. Over time, this group made
changes to the concepts of the original Situational Leadership Theory in several key areas, which included the
research base, the leadership style labels, and the individuals development level continuum.[5]



The Situational Leadership II (SLII) Model acknowledged the existing research of the Situational Leadership Theory and revised the concepts based on feedback
from clients, practicing managers, and the work of several
leading researchers in the eld of group development.[5]
The primary sources included:

Malcolm Knowles research in the area of adult

learning theory and individual development stages,
where he asserted that learning and growth are based
on changes in self-concept, experience, readiness to
learn, and orientation to learning.
Kanfer and Ackermans study of motivation and
cognitive abilities and the dierence between commitment and condence, task knowledge and transferable skills.[6]
Bruce Tuckmans research in the eld of group development, which compiled the results of 50 studies on group development and identied four stages
of development: Forming, Storming, Norming, and
Performing. Tuckmans later work identied a fth
stage of development called Termination. Tuckman found that when individuals are new to the team
or task they are motivated but are usually relatively
uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team.
Tuckman felt that in the initial stage (Forming) supervisors of the team need to be directive. Stage
two, Storming, is characterized by conict and polarization around interpersonal issues and how best
to approach the task. These behaviors serve as resistance to group inuence and task requirements and
can cause performance to drop. As the team moves
through the stages of development, performance and
productivity increase.
Lacoursieres research in the 1980s synthesized
the ndings from 238 groups. Until Lacoursieres
work in 1980, most research had studied non-work
groups; Lacoursieres work validated the ndings
produced by Tuckman in regard to the ve stages
of group development.
Susan Wheelans 10-year study, published in 1990
and titled Creating Eective Teams, which conrmed the ve stages of group development in Tuckmans work.

4.2 Development levels

Blanchards Situational Leadership II Model uses the
terms "competence" (ability, knowledge, and skill) and
"commitment" (condence and motivation) to describe
dierent levels of development.[5]
The Situational Leadership II Model tends to view development as an evolutionary progression meaning that
when individuals approach a new task for the rst time,
they start out with little or no knowledge, ability or skills,
but with high enthusiasm, motivation, and commitment.
Blanchard views development as a process as the individual moves from developing to developed, in this viewpoint it is still incumbent upon the leader to diagnose development level and then use the appropriate leadership

In the Blanchard SLII Model, the belief is that an individual comes to a new task or role with low competence
(knowledge and transferable skills) but high commitment.
As the individual gains experience and is appropriately
supported and directed by their leader they reach Development Level 2 and gain some competence, but their
commitment drops because the task may be more complex than the individual had originally perceived when
they began the task. With the direction and support of
their leader, the individual moves to Development Level
3 where competence can still be variableuctuating between moderate to high knowledge, ability and transferable skills and variable commitment as they continue to
gain mastery of the task or role. Finally, the individual
moves to Development Level 4 where competence and
commitment are high.



Despite its intuitive appeal, several studies do not support the prescriptions oered by situational leadership
theory.[7][8] To determine the validity of the prescriptions suggested by the Hersey and Blanchard approach,
Vecchio (1987)[8] conducted a study of more than 300
high school teachers and their principals. He found that
newly hired teachers were more satised and performed
better under principals who had highly structured leadership styles, but the performance of more experienced and
mature teachers was unrelated to the style their principals
exhibited. In essence, the Vecchio ndings suggest that in
terms of situational leadership, it is appropriate to match
a highly structured S1 style of leadership with immature
subordinates, but it is not clear whether it is appropriate
to match S2, S3, or S4, respectively, with more mature
subordinates. In a replication study using University employees, Fernandez and Vecchio (1997)[7] found similar
results. Taken together, these studies fail to support the
basic recommendations suggested by the situational leadership model.

See also
Contingency theory
Three Levels of Leadership model
Trait Leadership

Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1977). Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human
Resources (3rd ed.) New Jersey/Prentice Hall, ISBN

7 References
[1] Hersey, P. (1985). The situational leader. New York, NY:
Warner Books. ISBN 978-0446513425
[2] Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1969). Management
of Organizational Behavior Utilizing Human Resources.
New Jersey/Prentice Hall.
[3] Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1969). Life cycle theory of leadership. Training and Development Journal 23
(5): 2634.
[4] Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1977). Management of
Organizational Behavior 3rd Edition Utilizing Human Resources. New Jersey/Prentice Hall.
[5] Blanchard, Kenneth H., Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi. Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Eectiveness through Situational Leadership. New
York: Morrow, 1985. Print.
[6] Motivation
integrative/aptitude-treatment interaction approach to
skill acquisition.. Journal of Applied Psychology 74 (4):
657690. Aug 1989. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.74.4.657.
[7] Fernandez, C. F., & Vecchio, R. P. (1997). Situational leadership theory revisited: A test of an acrossjobs perspective. The Leadership Quarterly 8 (1): 6784.
[8] Vecchio, R. P. (1987). Situational Leadership Theory: An examination of a prescriptive theory. Journal
of Applied Psychology 72 (3): 444. doi:10.1037/00219010.72.3.444.

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