Managerial Leadership:

Leadership Schools

Situational Leadership (SL)*

Adapting Your Leadership Style to Specific Situations and People


"Leadership is an action, not a word."  ~ Richard P. Cooley

More Leadership Quotes


Coaching Employee Empowerment Situational Leadership Managerial Leadership SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Managerial Leadership Styles


Leadership Styles1

  • Directing Style is for people who lack competence but are enthusiastic and committed. They need direction and supervision to get started.

  • Coaching Style is for people who have some competence but lack commitment. They need direction, inspiration, and supervision because they are still relatively inexperienced. They also need support and praise to build their self-esteem, and involvement in decision-making to restore their commitment.

  • Supporting Style is for people who have competence, but lack confidence of motivation. They do not need much direction because of their skills, but support is necessary to bolster their confidence and motivation.

  • Delegating Style is for people who have both competence and commitment. They are able and willing to work on a project by themselves with little supervision or support.

The Tao of Situational Leadership

  1. YIN (passive, accepting side). Outside-In: Leadership activities should be tailored to the readiness of those being led.

  2. YANG (active, aggressive side). Inside-Out: It is desirable for the leader and the business to develop people toward the objective of doing their work independently.

Decision Making Situational Leadership Team Building and Teamwork Traditional Model of Management Leadership Employee Empowerment SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP: Continuum of Leadership Behavior

Two Dimensions of Situational Approach to Leadership

  • Individual-oriented: Depending on your employees' competences in their task areas and commitment to them, your leadership style may vary from one person to another.

  • Team-oriented: Depending on the team maturity stage6 – Forming, Storming, Norming, or Performing – your leadership style should change from more directive to more empowering.

The Tao of Employee Empowerment

Leader's Behavior1

  • Directive Behavior involves: clearly telling people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and then closely supervising their performance.

  • Supportive Behavior involves: listening to people, providing support and encouragement for their efforts, and then facilitating their involvement in problem-solving and decision-making.

Creative Leadership DOs and DON'Ts

Inspirational Leader: 10 Roles

Situational Leadership Defined

The model of situational leadership was created by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in the late 1960s.

Correlation Between Major Leadership Schools


The situational approach to leadership is based on the assumption that each instance of leadership is different and therefore requires a unique combination of leaders, followers, and leadership situations.

This interaction is commonly expressed in formula form: SL=f(L,F,S), where SL is successful leadership; f stands for function of; and L, F, and S are, respectively, the leader, the follower, and the situation. In other words, this formula says that successful leadership is a function of a leader, follower, and situation that are appropriate for one another.5

Leadership vs. Management

Leadership-Management Synergy

Leaders: Provide vision. Managers: Provide resources.

Resulting synergy: Employee empowerment... More

12 Leadership Roles

Leadership Styles

Your leadership style is how you behave when you are trying to influence the performance of others. It is the way you supervise or work with someone.

The are four leadership styles (but there is no one best leadership style):

  1. Directing

  2. Coaching

  3. Supporting

  4. Delegating.

Depending on your employees' competences in their task areas and commitment to them, your leadership style may vary from one person to another. You may also lead the same person one way sometimes and another way at other times. Use a variety of leadership styles in directing and supporting the work of others and make them a second nature to you in your roles as a manager and as a parent.

Your People Skills 360

Using the Skill/Will Matrix

If you assigned a task to someone and the job does not quite get done well enough, one of the most likely reasons is that:

  • you have delegated the task to someone who is unwilling - or unable - to complete the job, and have then remained relatively uninvolved or 'hands-off', or

  • you may have been too directive or 'hands-on' with a capable person who was quite able to complete the assignment with little assistance from you; you just ended up demotivating him/her.

Consequently, whether you are managing or leading, or coaching, it is critical to match your style of interaction with the coachee's readiness for the task. The Skill/Will Matrix will help you do this... More

Energize Others

Situational Leadership and Possible Misunderstandings

By J. Kenneth Boggs


There are four SL styles: telling, selling, participating and delegating. Telling is appropriate for those least ready to work independently and delegating for those most ready.  As those who are being led grow towards independence, the leader must progress through all of the SL levels. Leaders who do not match their style to that of those being led make it impossible for those being led to grow towards independence.

12 Causes of Failure in Leadership

Leaders are also challenged to deal with the possibility that their leadership may be perceived in a negative light. A leader who ignores either the possibility of negative perceptions, the actual occurrence of negative perceptions or the justification for negative perceptions is living in denial. The leader who lives in this denial is climbing out on a  limb; the longer the denial goes on, then the further out on that limb the leader climbs. Eventually the limb may break and down will come the leader. This approach is risky and not recommended.

In summary, SL describes how leaders interact with those being led. This interaction depends on the readiness of those being led, which changes. Thus it is essential that leaders monitor the readiness of those being led and adjust their leadership style accordingly.

Misunderstandings may occur and must be dealt with. This always means an adjustment on the leader’s part.

Last, people are sensitive about a leader’s priority – is the primary focus of the work for the benefit of those led or is it for that of the leader. When the primary focus is perceived to be first for the benefit of the leader, many undesirable negative behaviors are energized on the part of those led and further growth toward independence suspended.

On the other hand, when the primary focus of the work is perceived to be first for the benefit of those led, the greatest energy is given to the work and growth towards  independence. This then frees up the leader to do other work and thus to become an even more effective leader.

Situational Leadership: Pros and Cons

By J. Kenneth Boggs

People can perceive your different situational leadership styles both positively (focus on others and their benefits) and negatively (focus on self and for the benefit of self)... More



  1. "Leadership and The One Minute Manager," Kenneth Blanchard

  2. "Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources," Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard

  3. The Tao of Coaching, Max Landsberg

  4. "Situational Leadership and Possible Misunderstandings", J. Kenneth Boggs

  5. "Modern Management," Ninth Edition, Emanuel C. Certo

  6. "Forming Storming Norming Performing Model," Bruce Tuckman

Smart Executive

Strategies for Leading Breakthroughs

18 Leadership Lessons (by Colin Powell)

Effective Leadership

Leadership Attributes

4Es and 6 Rules for Leadership

The Talisman of Leadership – Authenticity

Entrepreneurial Leadership: 4 Specific Attributes

The Leader Is the Best, When...

Delegation DOs and DON'Ts

10 Roles of an Inspirational Leader

Innovation Leadership Quotes


* Situational Leadership® is a registered trademark of the Center for Leadership Studies, INC.