Learning & Development

Aug 25, 2021 10 min read

Situational Leadership: A Brahmastra

We often come across the term “ Leadership “ in our professional life. Leadership brings different pictures & views in ur mind. To me, Leadership is a way of life and leaders help in achieving business results through developing teams that drive results and also taking right decisions at the right time.

Famous quote by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard - “ Effective leaders need to be flexible and must adapt themselves according to the situation.“  This is the fundamental idea behind this great concept and based on this statement, they created Situational Leadership Theory or Model.

Leadership behaviour can be two types – regulating & nurturing. Regulating behaviour is one-way communication, structured, has control and supervisory characterstics. Nurturing behaviour is a two-way communication where the person listens, praise and facilitate. Further, subordinate also exhibit behaviours based on two parameters – Competency level & Motivation level. These two parameters can be called as Maturity Levels of the employee. Based on these maturity levels & leadership behaviour types, various leadeships styles are developed which can be applied under different situations leading to what we call as Situational Leadership.

In this article, we understand Situational Leadership,various types of Situational Leadership, subordinate development stages and its practical application on one’s professional as well  as personal life.

Situational leadership can thus be stated as the guiding tool which enable us to manage or handle any situation or task in life smoothly. It is very flexible and adapts to the people’s behaviour and Organisational needs. It basicaly has two component – Leadership behvaiour & Subordinate Matuirty Level  of competency & motivation which vary with person and the task assignment. The four types of leadership styles are :

  1. Directing  Leadership – Maturity Level (Low competency  high motivation)
  2. Supporting Leadership – Maturity Level (Low competency  low motivation)
  3. Consulting Leadership – Maturity Level (High competency  low motivation)
  4. Delegating Leadership – Maturity Level (High competency  high motivation)


This situational model is one the best model to manage people under any situation.

Application of Situational Leadership at Professtional Front :

Directive style of leadership can be experienced by a person when one start his/her career. The person is asigned to a manager who provides step-by step guidance and instruction about the task given. In this case, the person’s motivation level is high though his competency is low. He is very eager to understand the task and tries to learn new things at his job. In such cases, the manager/leaders has to explain him the job role, what to do and what not to do and closely monitor his performance. This style is instrumental to the success and carrer growth of the person.

Once you start to understand the job as you move ahead in your career, your competency level may increase from low to moderate and you may face some problems in life as a result of which you lack motivation; in such a senario the leader has to understand the situation, engages in two-way communications, listens him, facilitates and support him in making right decisions. This is Supportive style of Leadership.

You have started performing high and you have become competent & experienced but during the COVID pandemic situation, you may require mental support and coaching.The leader has to show consulting type of leadership style in which he provides a great deal of direction and also listens to the subordinate and take his ideas and suggestions.

Once the person has gained sufficient knowledge and skills and is also able to handle his assignment very well, the leader should delegate the task and discuss the road map and the targets and let him handle the job independently. The micromanagement decisions is left to the subordinate. This helps leader in delevoping his team and achieving his targets. Here the leader show delegating sytle of leadership.

In today’s fast changing business dyamics, competitive maket, COVID like disruptions, organisations need leaders who understand these variables and manages people very well through these siutational styles of leadership.The key to success for any leader is to know when to use each style.

A successful leader should develop the following charaterstics of Situational Leadership : (ABCD Rule)

  1. Active Listening - Leader must leverage their active listening skills to diagonse the siutations and take right decisions
  2. Be Flexible - Leader should have flexible with changing needs of team, task and organisation
  3. Clear direction – Leader should provide clear direction to his team and define clear roles and  responsibilites.
  4. Develop Trust – Leader should engage in behaviours that provide opportunities for subordinates to share their thoughts & ideas and coach them whenever they need support.

Application of Situational Leadership at Personal Front :

Situation leadership styles also help us in our role as parent in understanding our childern very well. When the child is small say from the age 2 to 4 years, the child does not have the capabilty to undertand his environment and we need to guide him,talk to him, tell him what to do,what not to do, how to do at each and every step. As he grows bigger at the age of 5 to 10 years, he starts learning to manage himself, going to school , we provide him support and listens to his questions and try to make him understand with answers. Once he grows and become a teenager, more competent to handle himeself, we should be more like a coach where we listen and facilite his decisions and try to install the confidence to face the challenges of life and as he moves out the school we should discuss the roap map and let him make his own decisions. Once the Trust and confidence develops in the child, the child is ready to fly and face the world.

Developing Effective Leaders :

Organisations are run through effective leaders and hence it is important that we inculcate the culture of developing subordinates for talent pipeline and succession planning. 

Situational Leadership style effectively help in developing leaders through assigning task and prioritizing jobs, analysing the readiness and maturity level of the subordinate and applying appropriate leadership style. Employees with high level of maturity are not micromanaged while those require more supervision are guided for task completion and meeting targets.

This model helps Leaders in developing teams which ultimately drive business results.


(This article is the assimilation of the class thoughts & discussions learnt during SAKSHAM  Leadership course. I thank IIM Trichy Professors specially Prof Dr. Papri Nath, my training collegeues and seniors who gave me the opportunity to attend this training program)


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Comments (1)

Uttam Singh Rawat

Nice and informative article, it will help leaders adjust to the working environments

  • 21 Mar 2022

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