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Situational Leadership

The Management Pocketbooks Pocket Correspondence Course

This is part of an extended management course. You can dip into it, or follow the course from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.


Last week’s Pocketblog looked at the importance of balance in your management style. This is also true, of course, of leadership. One of the things I said was:

There is no ‘right’ style of management. We each need to find the right balance, that works for us. We also need to adapt that balance to each individual and to changing circumstances.

The concept of adapting our style is at the core of models of situational leadership. There are many variants – lots of which are commercially protected. Each offers a process for two things.

Process 1: Evaluate the performance of the person you want to lead or manage

Most models focus on the person, in the context of the situation, looking principally at:

  1. How skilled, experienced, and able the person is, to fulfil their task
  2. How keen, motivated and confident the person is, to fulfil their task

From these they place the person on a continuum, or into one of a number of boxes (most often four)

Process 2: Apply the right style of leadership or management to situation

The second process is to select a style of leadership or management that fits the ability and motivation of the person. You can do this easily by tuning up or down the amount of:

  1. Technical support, guidance and direction to account for the level of expertise
  2. Emotional support, praise and reassurance to account for the level of enthusiasm

The simplest models are therefore based on four simple boxes.

Generic Situational Leadership Model

The Grand-daddy of situational leadership models, however, is not commercially protected and is described fully in The Management Models Pocketbook. It was developed by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Schmidt and published in a 1958 Harvard Business Review article. Their ‘Leadership Continuum’ has seven, rather than four, levels and a wider range of factors, like your own personal style, organisational culture, time pressures and risk.

Tannenbaum & Schmidt - Leadership Continuum

Further Reading 

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One thought on “Situational Leadership

  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    Leadership And Management

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