Situational Leadership is a theory formed by two well-known pioneers on the subject of leadership: Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. The two authors developed the Situational Leadership Theory based on their observations that no one leadership style is sufficient. Rather, managers must adapt their style of dealing with people to different maturity levels and tasks assigned. Improving Situational Leadership skills involves several plans of action.

Hone your ability to determine the maturity levels of those you are leading. In the Situational Leadership model, your ability to choose an effective leadership strategy is partially based on your assessment of an employee's ability, willingness or confidence to do her job. Become better skilled at determining these factors among your workers. Plan a strategy for observing this behavior. Note if they seem confident in some situations but not in others and plan your approach for addressing issues with them based on your conclusion.

Improve your strategies by observing the number of tasks an employee has to complete. Situational Leadership focuses on the types and numbers of duties an individual must complete as a basis for how to lead. Be aware of what your employees do on daily basis. You are a more effective manager if you are realistic about the amount of work designated to an employee. For example, if you are treating a High Task employee -- someone with many responsibilities -- like a Low Task employee -- someone with less on her plate -- then frustration is going to develop with this worker and therefore undermine your leadership ability.

Develop new selling strategies. One angle of Situational Leadership is selling or coaching to employees who are high in tasks and maturity. These employees appreciate autonomy and being appreciated for their work ethic. If you simply attempt to tell this level of employee what to do, he will likely resent the one-sided relationship. Workers with a high level of tasks and maturity are best handled when you remember to deal with them psychologically as well so they willingly accept decisions made about their job.

Keep your own emotions at bay and adapt your reaction to employees based on whether they are high or low task and high or low maturity. Situational Leadership breaks down into several different strategies based on the task and maturity level of the employee. Being a person with your own thoughts and feelings, however, you may want to change an approach based on the baggage you bring to the table and not the theory. Work on learning more regarding how to deal with employees as they fit into their different categories. In other words, for a high task or high maturity employee, you will need to coach more than a low task or low maturity worker where you just need to delegate and not worry about trying to convince. If you like to please people, you may struggle with just delegating.


Reflect on ways you have been managed and how Situational Leadership could have improved past managers' style of leading.