Advantages and disadvantages of situational leadership
This article evaluates some of the advantages and disadvantages of situational leadership style. Blanchard and Hersey developed ‘Life Cycle Theory of Leadership’ in 1969 which was later renamed as Situational Leadership Theory.
Definitions of situational leadership style
According to St Thomas University (2019), situational leadership adapts to the existing work environment and the needs of the organization. It is widely observed that managers often may have to adjust their style to fit the development level of their followers.
The names of Blanchard and Hersey often come up first in the discussion of situational leadership; however, according to Attner and Plunkett (1994) there are three theories of this style i.e. Fiedler’s Contingency model, House and Mitchell’s Path-Goal theory, and Hersey and Blanchard’s Life Cycle theory.
Advantages of situational leadership style
Situational leadership is dependent on the scenario at hand and the development level of the individuals concerned. This style allows leaders to meet every scenario that arises as things unfold. It also enables them to bring out the best in their followers and give them the very best likelihood of achieving success.
Situational leadership is perhaps the most widely used leadership style in the world. It has gained popularity over the years particularly because it enhances employee commitment and retention. There is no doubt that different circumstances require different types of management. Situational leadership addresses each worker’s ability level and desires which is useful to delegate responsibilities at a given time to get the job done.
Situational leaders can make employees feel comfortable and accepted since their style matches the latter’s character. They focus on the circumstances and the people concerned and then consider the scenario to create action plans. Instead of considering all employees as one generic category, they try to understand each employee differently yet equally. The goal is to judge the competency of each employee, then increase motivation levels primarily based on the style which is most helpful for a particular individual.
Situational leaders employ their style of working as per the situation. Their decisions and actions depend on the maturity level of workers, the complexity of duties, and the needs of the organisation. Therefore, they can fit into all kinds of teams, business demands, and leadership roles. They achieve the capacity to show multifaceted management ideas depending upon the demands of their business.
Disadvantages of situational leadership style
As situational leaders may regularly change their approach to cater to everyone’s needs, it may cause confusion and may not be helpful to build long-term work culture (Indeed, 2021).
A key element of this leadership style is the ability of the leaders to assess an employee’s maturity level. However, the challenge is that not all leaders are capable of doing so, and may in fact apply a style that is not suitable for some employees.
Applying situational leadership style can be challenging and exhausting for some leaders. Imagine keeping an eye on and catering to the needs of everyone involved! Moreover, if the leaders fail to evaluate the situation, it can bring about negative outcomes. Likewise, if leaders lack in people skills, the style may not work at all.
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Last update: 12 August 2021
Attner, R. and Plunkett, W. (1994) Introduction to management, 5th edition, California: Wadsworth, Inc.
Indeed (2021) What is situational leadership, available at: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/situational-leadership (accessed 11 August 2021)
St Thomas University (2019) What Is situational leadership®? How flexibility leads to success, available at: https://online.stu.edu/articles/education/what-is-situational-leadership.aspx (accessed 12 August 2021)
Author: Joe David
Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.