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Situational Leadership

Hersey And Blanchard

In the 1970s Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed their Situational Leadership Theory. Under this theory no single leadership style is the best, instead the most appropriate leadership style will depend on the situation and the tasks that need to be completed.

Diagram Showing Hersey And Blanchard's Situational Leadership Model
This Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership Model diagram depicts the leadership styles S1 to S4 and the associated readiness level R1 to R4.

Leadership Styles Balanced With Readiness Level

Under situational leadership the leader should adapt their leadership style to suit the maturity (developmental) level of the employee/follower that they are trying to influence. Leaders will need to adapt their leadership style in line with changes in the situation.

Leadership Styles

Situational Leadership Theory categorises leadership styles into four categories: S1 Telling, S2 Selling, S3 Participating, And S4 Delegating.

Follower's Readiness

The Situational Leadership Model asserts that Leaders should adjust their leadership style in line with their followers readiness. Readiness is based on the competency and willingness of the followers and is split into four categories by Hersey and Blanchard.

The maturity level for followers may change according to the task, as they may have the skills to complete one task but not another task or they may be more willing to complete one task over another.

How Do Leadership Styles and Readiness Levels Fit Together?

Quite logically leadership styles and maturity levels go together as follows:


Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership Theory acknowledges that the effectiveness of a leader will be influenced by the ability and motivation of their followers; as followers are the people who need to complete the task for the leader. Fantastic leadership alone can not compensate for lack of competency or willingness so Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership model attempts to provide a solution for those shortcomings.


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