Leadership Tool #1: Situational Approach

Situational approach to leadership is the combination of both supportive and directive leadership techniques (Northouse, 2016, p. 93). The approach recommended is that of Hersey & Blanchard which was developed in 1969 but has since been expanded on (Northouse, 2016, p. 93). This tool was selected because it takes into consideration the follower characteristics and can be used in various business situations. Directive behavior is through goal setting, rules and regulations, timelines, and providing task direction. Supportive behavior is more communicative and problem solving based. For jobs with repetitive tasks, the need for direction decreases as you become more familiar with your role. For jobs with varying and unclear tasks, the need for direction will always need to be provided.

This tool provides leaders with the ability to adjust their methods based off employee’s needs. It tells you what you should and should not do in certain situations (Northouse, 2016, p. 99). To implement this strategy, you must consider: How complex the goal is? Do the followers possess the correct skills for the task? And are the followers motivated to achieve the goal (Northouse, 2016, p. 97)? Once these questions are answered it will guide you on how to lead your employees.

Below you can see the Hersey & Blanchard’s Situational Leadership method and how the changes in directive vs supportive needs will influence how you should lead your team (see figure 1).

situational 2Figure 1. The Center for Leadership Studies (2018). Situational Leadership. Retrieved from situational.com/situational-leadership/about-situational-leadership


Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

The Center for Leadership Studies (2018). Situational Leadership. Retrieved from situational.com/situational-leadership/about-situational-leadership/

The Center for Leadership Studies. (2015, April 9). Situational Leadership® Overview With Dr. Paul Hersey [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qD_6yIKXbo


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