Specifically, situational leadership allows managers to be autocratic when the situation requires it, while it also supports them in being democratic, when the situation requires it. This materializes in high levels of effectiveness. Erven argues: "An alternative to being an autocratic or democratic leader is to be a situational leader. Situational leaders are able to adapt their leadership style to fit their followers and situations in which they are working. […] Managers using situational leadership will make conscious choices between their use of directive behavior and supportive behavior. In directive behavior, they are relying on providing structure, control and close supervision for the people with whom they are working. In supportive behavior, they are relying on praise, two-way communication, and facilitating the work of their employees and co-workers."
In testing the validity of the initially stated thesis, the onion ring methodology would be used. This methodology is constructed on layers and the analogy to the vegetable reveals that it is necessary to complete one level in the research process in order to move on to the following level.
The onion ring methodology is constructed around six distinctive elements, as follows -- the research philosophies, the research approaches, the research strategies, the research choices, the time horizons and the research techniques and procedures. The research philosophies represent the first external layer, whereas the techniques and procedures sit at the core of the research onion. The structure of the research methodology is best revealed in the diagram below:
Source: Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009
A specific element which has to be mentioned about the onion ring methodology is that it is extremely flexible as it allows the researcher to redefine the terms of his research at each step. The selection of the research philosophy or other research elements is not strict and pegged to given models, but it is flexible and given by the features of the research endeavor. In the case of the research philosophies for instance, this research uses the positivism philosophy as this best represents the needs of the current research endeavor. This very flexibility and adaptability of the research methodology constitutes a real life application of the situational model by which the research choices are adapted to the research requirements. This feature of the research methodology has constituted the main reason as to why the onion ring was selected to test the validity of situational leadership's effectiveness within the modern day business community. At a specific level, the following decisions have been made regarding the methodological process:
The adoption of a positivist research philosophy which approaches the research topic with objectivism and assesses it through unbiased lenses to form conclusions and theses
The selection of the deductive research approach as this commences at a given theory -- the thesis mentioned in the initial sections of the paper -- and strives to test its validity
The choice of using a survey as the main research strategy due to ease of usage, the fact that it constitutes a great source of information, and also the fact that it allows comparison between various responses and respondents
The research choice of using a dual research method, formed from the research of the specialized literature and the survey
From the standpoint of the time horizons, the study would be a cross sectional one in which several dimensions of the research topic are assessed within a restricted time frame
Finally, from the angle of the research techniques and procedures, these fall under the incidence of both qualitative and well as quantitative approaches. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is called triangulation and it reveals the benefits of maximizing the advantages of the two methods and minimizing the disadvantages
6. Data collection and analysis
The survey would be issued onto a sample formed from 50 managers in front line and middle management. All these professionals activate in the local community and serve purposes in various industries, including manufacturing, retailing or other services. The questionnaire was offered to the managers. Some of them answered it on the spot, while others answered it at a later date. All 50 questionnaires were collected within one week. The managers answered the following questions:
Question 1: Please state your line of occupation:
a) Middle manager
b) Front line manager
c) Executive manager
Question 2: Please state the age category to which you belong:
a) Between 20 and 30
b) Between 30 and 40
c) Between 40 and 50
d) Over 50 years
Question 3: Please state the number of years you have spent within the current position / the managerial field:
a) Less than 2 years
b) Between 2 and 5 years
c) Between 5 and 10 years
d) Over 10 years
Question 4: How would you describe your managerial style?
Question 5: Do you always implement the same managerial style to deal with organizational situations?
Question 6: When you implement a different managerial style than the dominant one, what helps you make that decision?
a) the lack of success with the dominant managerial style
b) the particularities of each situation which needs to be managed
c) the need / desire to introduce change for purposes of diversity and efficiency
Question 7: When you implemented a different managerial style -- other than the dominant one -- based on the particularities of the given situation, what was the outcome?
a) Positive outcomes
b) Negative outcome
c) the same outcome as would have been retrieved with the usage of the dominant managerial style
Question 8: Will you be using again different managerial style based on the features of a given situation?
Question 9: When you adapt your managerial style to a situation, what elements do you consider? Assign points of importance from 1 to 5, 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.
a) the level of urgency in resolving the situation
b) the maturity and reliability of the subalterns
c) the internal organizational capacity to deal with the situation
d) the influence of external factors
e) the role the situation plays in attaining organizational goals
Question 10: Would you say that situational leadership was effective in managing different organizational situations?
Question 11: Would you recommend situational leadership to other managers?
Based on the answers retrieved, the following conclusions were formed:
a) Age and adoption of situational leadership
The age of the manager does not indicate his individual approach and acceptance of situational leadership. In some cases, younger managers implement situational leadership due to their flexibility and ability to adapt to new requirements, but they, in other cases, fail to implement it due to lack of expertise. In the case of the older managers, some of them implement situational leadership as a result of years of expertise, whereas others deny it due to lack of flexibility.
b) Individual managerial styles
For most of the managers, it was difficult to select a single managerial style of leadership. The large majority however indicated either participative or democratic dominant styles. The incidence of self declared authoritarian or laissez-faire managers was reduced. The large majority of the managers indicated that they often combined several managerial styles and the main reason in this decision was constituted by the particularities of each different situation they had to manage within the organizational climate.
According to Fred C. Lunenburg and Allan C. Ornstein (2007), there are four particular styles which result as the combination of the situation and the traditional managerial styles. These four styles refer to the following: directing style, coaching style, supporting style and delegative style. each of these styles is appropriate in specific situations and characterized by specific features. The directing leadership style for once is applicable in situations when the subalterns are limitedly skilled and motivated and it is characterized by a low relationship and a high task orientation. Secondly, the coaching style is appropriate when the employees reveal high levels of morale and motivation, but limited skills. This type of leadership style is characterized by high levels of both relationship as well as task.
Third, the supporting style is appropriate in situations in which the employees are highly skilled and able to complete their tasks, but they lack the adequate motivation. Managers will as such focus on the relationship, while the emphasis on task would be limited. Finally, the delegating style is appropriate only when the employees are both highly skilled as well as highly motivated; it implies reduced levels of both relationship as well as task management (Lunenburg and Ornstein, 2007).
c) Perceived efficiency of situational leadership
In most cases, the adaptation of the managerial style to the particularities of each situation has led to positive results. The feedback interviews with the managers retrieved information according to which the failures were generally due to the inability to adequately…