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What is a Situational Leader?

Practicing suitational leadership

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Defining Leadership

Defining the term leadership can sometimes be complicated with varying answers. However, there are specific principles that can make any manager a better leader.

Hopefully in 2020, it is common knowledge on how important effective leadership is when managing others.

This article will discuss a specific model termed Situational Leadership intending to provide insights on new strategies to better manage your teams.

Firstly, It is assumed you are in middle management, in either a frontline or senior role, with several direct reports who answer to you.

You might note how demanding some can be, while other team members are happy doing their own thing.

Furthermore, you constantly worry about the performance of certain individual staff members, yet others not as much.

Oh, the joys of management.

Theories on Leading and Managing

To be noted, there are multiple theories of leadership in the public domain, some highly actionable, while others are a bit more passive.

Several of these theories view leadership as a series of personal characteristics, comprised of such traits as a desire to lead, integrity, creativity, ambition, the ability to self-motivate- and many more.

Others hold the view that leadership consists of the mastery of a specific set of work skills and knowledge, with the premise being others will follow due to a manager’s level of perceived expertise.

At Aptitude Management, we believe that forming trusting relationships with your direct reports, promoting ongoing (positive) social interactions, and influencing others towards the achievement of pre-determined objectives, is how one effectively leads.

Regardless of how you might define leadership, outcomes are what matter and results count. Results are measurable, tangible and profitable to your organisation.

Situation Matters When Leading and Managing Others

One key element of leadership to note, are the situational variances. Each person on your team has a different set of needs due to personal work histories, knowledge and expertise.

Work situations will also vary, from high-pressure environments, seasonal influences and general organisational change.

Endeavouring to utilise a one size fits all approach to leadership will pale in significance to adopting a more flexible and adaptable approach. Taking the situational approach will do wonders for forming ongoing positive team interactions.

It was Dr Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard who coined the term ‘situational leadership’ back in the 1960s, so full credit given to their work.

Although this article provides a brief overview, it is recommended that you look them up independently.

Hersey and Blanchard advise that an effective leader adapts their management actions according to the level of the subordinate’s knowledge, skills and self-confidence, and then use either a more supportive or directive leadership style.

As mentioned, the external work environment should also be considered.

In their work, Hersey and Blanchard classify four distinct leadership behaviours which should be used in the appropriate circumstance.

These behaviours are defined as providing either high or low support for team members, and the amount of direction given in producing work.

The behaviours are broken down specifically into four leadership styles. These are categorised as:

  1. Directing style – high directive and low supportive behaviour.
  2. Coaching style – high directive and high supportive behaviour.
  3. Supportive style – low directive and high supportive behaviour.
  4. Delegating style – low directive and low supportive.

Situational leadership has proven to be a useful tool for managers. This method is taught in our Effective Staff Supervision course.

Feedback from attendees in past workshops is that once applied within the workplace, situational leadership has had a significant positive impact on how they manage their teams.

The Competence and Character of a Leader

On a final note, establishing a high level of respect from your team entails generating a high level of perceived competence and character.

Perception is everything when it comes to leadership.

Your team members will consistently ask the question, are you competent at your role? Do you understand the intricate work of the organisation, can you gain the necessary resources for the department, and how effective are you at influencing across, and up the chain of command?

Furthermore, each member will also be assessing your character. They need to know if they can trust you?

When you are consistent in your behaviour, do what you say, and demonstrate over again how much you care about the team, you will be demonstrating a high level of character.

Remember, forming trusting relationships with your direct reports and promoting positive social interactions is how the effective leader exerts influence.

Thank you for reading this article, your comments and insights are welcome.

Please also check out our full list of managerial courses

The Aptitude Team

Aptitude Management is a corporate training provider operating throughout Australia. We provide public workshops and inhouse programs specifically designed for middle managers. We can be contacted on 1800 753 087.
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