The Hersey Blanchard's Situational Leadership Model

The Ohio State studies have formed the basis for many different leadership theories, one that has been developed by Hersey and Blanchard , is called Situational Leadership.

Situational Leadership model is based on an interplay among:

  1. the amount of guidance and direction (task behavior) a leader gives,
  2. the amount of socio emotional support (relationship behavior) a leader provides,
  3. the readiness level that followers exhibit in performing a specific task, function or objective.

Each quadrant represents a distinct leadership style. The style the managers uses is dictated by the readiness of the followers or group. It is defined as the ability and willingness of subordinates to accomplish a specific task. As Figure 48 illustrates, the continuum of follower readiness can be dividend into four levels (see Figure below). Each represents a different combination of follower ability and willingness or confidence. In summary, the readiness leadership style relationships are as follows:

Readiness Level 1
Style 1 MatchTelling : This style (telling, guiding, directing, establishing) is appropriate when an individual or group is low in ability and willingness and needs direction. E F
Readiness Level 2
Style 2 MatchSelling : This range of readiness (an individual or group that is still unable, but they're trying), suggests that a selling style of leadership (selling, explaining, persuading, clarifying) will be the best.
Readiness level 3
Style 3 MatchParticipating : If a individual or group is assessed at a moderate to high level of readiness (able but not completely willing), then this model suggests that a participating style (participating, encouraging, collaborating, committing) of leadership will be the best.
Readiness Level 4
Style 4 MatchDelegating . If individual or group is assessed at a high level of readiness (both ready and willing, or ready and confident), then this model suggests that a D F delegating style (delegating, observing, monitoring, fulfilling) will be the best.

The final component in Hersey and Blanchard's theory is defining four stages of maturity:

R 1
People are both unable and unwilling to take responsibility to do something.
R 2
People are unable but willing to do the E F necessary job tasks.
R 3
People are able but unwilling to do what the leader wants.
R 4
People are both able and willing to do what is asked of them.

To determine what leadership style leader should use with a given situation, he must do several things:

First, leader must decide what areas of individual's or group's activities he would like to influence. The second step is to determine the ability and motivation (readiness level) of the individual or group in each of the selected areas. The final step is deciding which of the four leadership styles would be appropriate with this individual in each of these areas.

The HersyeBlanchard model has several advantages:

  • it is easy to understand and apply
  • the model stresses that different styles are appropriate for the same subordinates, depending on their maturity with reference to each task
  • the model assumes that managers controls results
  • the model emphasizes the need for the leader to respond to subordinates' needs for psychological support

However, as with other contingency approaches to leadership, the situational model does not account for others factors: such as time available or deeper needs and motives of worker.


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