Leadership has been one of the most studied, researched and theorize topic which has been evaluated, discussed and described by many theorists and scholars. Whereas the truth is that it's no theoretical phenomenon or rocket science. We all act as leader in different situations. Also, we all have different leadership styles and tactics of handling situations. Furthermore, as a leader, we are required to show different leadership skills as per the recipient. This is where the concept of situational leadership comes in. We studied this concept of leadership during our group activity which was performed to determine individual leadership style based on peer evaluation. Where this activity was intended to find out the leadership style; it was also helpful in finding out one's strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
The fundamental concept of leadership has changed to a limited extent over time however over time organizations, society and cultures have evolutes and diversified greatly. This is the reason why the concept of Situational leadership gains major importance. It is applicable in our personal as well as professional lives as it addresses macro as well as micro issues. Furthermore, it shows adaptation to all kind of followers with different developmental levels (Thomas & Bainbridge). During our group activity, we analyzed our individual leadership styles based on peer evaluation and this model helped in understanding my personal leadership style.
This concept was coined by Hersey and Blanchard in 1969.It was originally based on Reddin's 3-D management style theory (Northouse). This theory explained that a situational leader has a responsibility of adapting his/her leadership style as per the needs of the recipient or team member. The needs of the recipient are dependent on the competence as well as confidence level. This combination commands the amount of direction required and the personal encouragement (which is based on the will of accomplishing the task assigned). What kind of leadership should be applied is dependent on the correct diagnosis of this combination.
Situational leadership is described by a matrix model. The matrix has willingness to perform a task in one dimension and the skill level on the other, moving from low to high level (Hersey and Blanchard, 1996). The matrix defines four combinations.
1) Low skills, low willingness- Selling and Coaching
2) High skills, low willingness- Facilitating
3) High skills, high willingness- Delegating Style
4) Low skills, high willingness -- Directive Style
Dependent on these combinations, the leader is required to show adaptation in his/her mannerism of leadership. Situational leadership also has certain requirements. It demands a certain level of flexibility which is required by the scenarios and recipients involved.
While we performed analysis on the situational leadership, we came across a statement, "Situational leadership is redundant when there is a task to be done." (Casey, 2011)
Although Situational leadership offers a flexible model of handling different situations; it is being argued that considering the situation may turn out to be futile when there is actually a task in hand and it needs to be performed. Traditional leadership model emphasizes on getting the job done rather than evaluating the situation and then acting accordingly.
However, it has been proved over time that situational leadership model provides a certain level of flexibility which ensures utilizing the resources in hand to maximum efficiency. To add to it, its directive nature provides the guidelines to the leader about what ways should be opted in various situations. Understanding the potential and capabilities of one's team members is critical to the leadership. Where change is the basic essence of leadership; situational leadership is adaptation to it. Where people and circumstances, basic objectives and goals may vary because of external and internal factors over time, it requires leadership to change accordingly and it is a trait of a good leader only that he responds quickly to the situation (Hersey, 1984).
One cannot ignore the drawbacks of this model. With constantly changing strategies with time, a leader will find it difficult to implement new strategies on the go. A long-term vision may elude him due to constant changes. However, this weakness can be managed easily if the leader has a strong will and is aware of the task in hand with clarity of goals to achieve. In response to those who say that situational leadership is redundant in achievement of task, the only answer is, "Situational Leadership is clearly defined, easy to apply and logical."
For example, we have five members in our team with one as a leader. Now, three of my team members are well-versed with the recent technology and have good research abilities. On the other hand, one of my team members is an expatriate from Kuwait and is not very much well-versed with basic research in theoretical sciences. Therefore, we can assign him the task of research we complete sovereignty (Dunbar, 2011). Rather we will ask him to coordinate with one of other team members who can direct or guide him time and again. Now we do know that once he knows how to do the research on his own, less amount of direction will be required by him. Therefore, the amount of direction will decrease as his skill level increases. Constant leadership style without adapting to the profile of a team may actually result in frustration and stress. Therefore, it is necessary that the leader assesses the present potential of the team member and this analysis should be performed on frequent basis so that what kind of leadership style should be used, can be determined effectively (McLagan, 2003).
During this assignment, we performed analysis on what situational leadership is and why a particular leadership style is required in a specific situation. While performing this assignment, we, the group of five, also did evaluation of our individual leadership styles. Now, the profile of my team has variation. Three of my team members are proficient in the given subject, whereas one of them is rather weak. It is quite obvious that on the basis of individual portfolio, my treatment with a certain team member will vary (Kotter, 2003).
We shared this feedback within group in the form of questionnaire where a written feedback was shared within the group. Also specific instances were quoted which helped us illustrate our point with clarity. On the later phase, we also had a detailed discussion regarding this written feedback which helped us understand our own strengths and weaknesses.
On the basis of assessment shared by my three group members, I bear characteristics of delegating leadership style. It is considered low relationship/low-task leader behavior "because the style involves letting followers "run their own show." The leader delegates since the followers are high in readiness, have the ability, and are both willing and able to take responsibility for directing their own behavior." Hence, much of a decision making power is left with the followers or a team member where the leader stays in the monitoring state only and contributes little in decision making.
This particular leadership, like others, has its set of pros and cons. This leadership model is most successful when the recipients have necessary competence and commitment to perform the assigned task. Furthermore, for the success of this model, it is necessary that the leader remains available and reachable in the monitoring state. The biggest advantage of this style is that if applied to the right set of team members, it gives them a sense of responsibility and they feel entrusted which helps them in achieving their assigned tasks with maximized efficiency and effectiveness. Also, it helps in developing future leaders who become prepared for the real time situations where they can be assigned tasks with complete independemce.
On the other hand, this model has certain disadvantages too. For a leader, it is necessary that he understand the difference between delegating and abdicating (Blanchard, 2011). The leader abdicates when delegates the tasks to his team members and then disappears. Now the team members have no one to turn to, in case they need any guidance. Hence, it is essential that along with giving sufficient liberty to one's team, a necessary equilibrium of check and balance should be duly maintained. Also, it should not be applied in a situation where the team members have little competence, willingness or both to perform this assigned goal (Vermeulen, 2004).
Along with this evaluation of my leadership style, certain strengths and weaknesses were also mentioned by them with which I agree completely. As per my three team members, since I have a delegating leadership style; this particular leadership style helps them act independently as they well versed with the subject in hand and are able to perform the task. Furthermore, it strengthens our relation as it shows that I trust them and their capabilities. However, along with this positive feedback, they also mentioned that there are times when I delegate too much without sharing enough details assuming that they will know about the subject matter.
Here, it is interesting to quote the example given…