Home » Blog » Situational Leadership: Leaders Dealing With Situation


  • Situational Leadership Models
  • Characteristics of the Situational Leader
  • Advantages of Situational Leadership
  • Disadvantages of Situational Leadership
  • Examples of Situational Leadership
  • Situational Leadership in Research
  • What Does A Situational Leader Do

There are many different leadership styles in the world, and most leaders have their own style of leadership because each leader has a distinct personality. One of the most challenging personalities to manage, who adapts his or her management style to the needs of the organisation and adopts a leadership style to the maturity level of employees or subordinates in various situations.

Because of market dynamics, changes in demand and supply, and technological disruptions, any organisation must adapt at the same rate as the market. If the industry is driven by the situational leader, the organisation adjusts quickly. Situational leadership, rather than the classic stereotype style of leadership, is in high demand in the modern market. The Situational Leader adapts his leadership style to the needs of the organisation, which is critical in helping the company become more lucrative.

This isn’t based on a certain talent or ability. It’s all about Situational Leadership now. This article is meant to help you comprehend various elements, not just the Blanchard and Hersey models.

Situational Leadership Models

The Contingent or Situational Style of leadership has been studied since very long. The given three models give the final shape to the situational leadership model we generally know today. 

  • Fiedler’s contingency theory

The contingency theory of Fred E. Fiedler is based on the premise that there is no single optimum technique for managers to lead. Different conditions necessitate different managerial leadership styles. In some cases, a style that works in one setting may not work in another.

Fiedler examined three factors that influence a leader’s situational control. These are the elements:

Task structure. Is the employment very structured, somewhat unstructured, or in the middle? Task structure is influenced by the detailed description (favourable) of what is expected of subordinates.

Leader/member relations. This factor refers to how much loyalty, dependability, and support a leader obtains from his or her subordinates. A manager with a positive relationship has a well-defined task structure and is able to reward and/or penalise staff without difficulty. The task structure is frequently poorly developed in an unfavourable relationship, and the leader has limited authority.

Positioning power.The amount of influence or authority a manager believes the organisation has granted him or her for the purpose of directing, rewarding, and disciplining subordinates is measured by positioning power. Managerial power is based on whether employees’ decision-making power is reduced (favourable) or increased (unfavourable).

Fiedler then divided managers into two groups: relationship-oriented and task-oriented. In scenarios with good leader/member connections, specified tasks, and either weak or strong position power, task-oriented managers performed better. They also performed well when activities were unstructured but position power was high, as well as when leader/member relations were moderate to poor and the tasks were unstructured. Managers who focus on relationships, on the other hand, do better in all other situations.

The task-motivated style leader takes pride and satisfaction in completing tasks for his or her business, whereas the relationship-motivated style leader works to improve interpersonal relationships and provide extra support for team development.

It might be tough to determine whether a leadership style is good or terrible. Each manager has his or her own leadership preferences. When their teams succeed, such as setting new sales records or surpassing significant competitors, task motivated leaders are at their best. When more customers are satisfied and a positive corporate image is generated, relationship-oriented executives are at their best.

  • Hersey-Blanchard’s situational model

Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard conducted the ultimate leadership style study, which they represented in their Situational Leadership Model. The Hersey-Blanchard approach focuses on the followers’ characteristics and styles, which are critical to practical leadership growth.

Not everyone has the same amount of intelligence, maturity, compliance, or motivation. Different things motivate different people, and this must be considered if one is to be a successful leader. Experts agree that tailoring your message to your “target audience” is crucial. You want to motivate and influence your followers, and you can’t do that if you don’t know who you’re attempting to motivate or influence.

The HerseyBlanchard Model of Situational Leadership is based on the amount of task behaviour (task behaviour) and socioemotional support (relational behaviour) a leader must supply based on the scenario and the followers’ maturity level.

The extent to which a leader spells out the obligations and responsibilities to an individual or group is referred to as task behaviour. 

Telling others what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and where to do it is one example of this conduct. The leader uses one-way communication in task conduct. The amount to which the leader engages in two-way or multiway conversations is referred to as relationship behaviour. 

Listening, facilitating, and helping staff are all examples of this conduct. And maturity is defined as a person’s willingness and ability to take charge of his or her own actions. Employees have varied levels of maturity, based on the duties, functions, or goals that they are attempting to achieve.

A leader must first evaluate the maturity levels of his or her followers in connection to the specific task in order to determine the right leadership style to apply in that situation. As an employee’s maturity level rises, a leader should start reducing task behaviour and increasing relationship behaviour until his or her followers have reached a reasonable level of maturity. As employees reach above-average levels of maturity, the boss should reduce not only task but also relational conduct.

Once maturity levels are identified, a manager can determine the appropriate leadership style: telling, selling, participating, or delegating.

  1. Telling (S1). This style is characterised by a high task-to-relationship ratio. The leader gives explicit directions and guidance. A low level of follower preparedness is best matched with a telling approach.
  2. Selling (S2). This style is characterised by a high task-to-relationship ratio. Although the leader retains authority and control over decision making, the leader encourages two-way communication and assists the employee in developing confidence and motivation. A modest level of follower readiness is best matched with a selling technique.
  3. Participating (S3). This style displays a high-relationship/low-task mentality. This style allows the leader and followers to share decision-making and eliminates the need for or expectation of a directive relationship. A modest level of follower readiness is best paired with a participatory approach.
  4. Delegating (S4). Low relationship/low task behaviour is seen in this approach. Delegating approach is excellent for leaders whose followers are capable and motivated to bear full responsibility for completing a certain task.


  • House’s path-goal theory

Robert House established the path-goal theory, which is based on the expectation theory of motivation. A manager’s responsibility is to coach or guide employees in choosing the best paths to their objectives. According to goal-setting theory, several types of leadership behaviours are used by leaders depending on the nature and demands of a given scenario.

When perceived as a source of satisfaction, a leader’s behaviour is acceptable to subordinates. When need fulfilment is conditional on performance, he or she is motivating; this leader supports, coaches, and rewards effective performance. Several leadership types are identified by path goal theory:

Achievement‐oriented. The leader sets demanding goals for his or her followers, expects them to perform at their best, and has faith in their ability to achieve these goals. When followers lack job difficulties, this technique is acceptable.

Directive. The leader informs followers on what is expected of them and how to carry out their responsibilities. When followers have ambiguous jobs, this style is suitable.

Participative. Before making a decision, the leader consults with his or her followers and solicits their input. When followers are following incorrect methods of making poor decisions, this approach is suitable.

Supportive. The leader is approachable and friendly. He or she expresses concern for the followers’ mental health. When followers lack confidence, this style is acceptable.

The pathgoal hypothesis assumes that leaders are adaptable and may change their styles as circumstances dictate. This theory suggests two contingency variables to control the link between leader behaviour and outcome:

Followers, task structure, authority system, and work group have no control over environmental factors. If follower results are to be maximised, environmental circumstances influence the type of leader behaviour necessary.

Control, experience, and perceived ability are all focused on follower traits. Subordinates’ personal qualities influence how the surroundings and leader conduct are understood.

Effective leaders define the path for their followers to follow in order to assist them reach their objectives and make their travels easier by removing impediments and dangers. Employee performance and satisfaction are positively influenced when leaders compensate for flaws in their staff or work environments, according to research.

Characteristics of the Situational Leader

The following are some of the basic characteristics of the situational leadership style. 


Situational leadership is based on the premise that there is no such thing as a single best or fixed form of leadership. Situational leaders are able to be flexible and adapt their leadership style to both the level of maturity of the group they are leading and the scenario at hand as the needs of the organisation change over time. A situational leader also changes their leadership style to different tasks and to fostering better, more beneficial working relationships. Situational leaders look at how their workplace is set up and evaluate its shifting strengths and shortcomings on a regular basis..

Changes According to the Situation

The situational leader’s leadership style is determined by two factors: the current situation and the maturity level of the individuals involved. The Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership model is used by situational leaders to analyse their team’s “maturity level” or “growth level.” If a team or individual is inexperienced, a directive, hands-on leadership approach is required. As kids grow older, coaching can help them build their skills, and some team members will be able to manage some of the decision-making procedures on their own. A situational leader, according to the Goleman model, will change based on the difficulties that their organisation is facing, whether it’s repairing team relationships, gaining consensus on issues, or enhancing long-term performance.


When team members are inexperienced and require a lot of guidance, as well as the proper information and motivation to execute tasks, situational leadership will be high on the “directive” element. At the S1 level, a leader delivers specific directions to their team on how to achieve their objectives. A situational leader will use a “coercive” approach to reforming an organisation, instructing their subordinates on how to attain the desired goal. In these situations, it’s critical for the situational leader to maintain a positive growth mindset, as they’ll want this team member to eventually be self-sufficient enough to make decisions for the team.


The coaching style is an extension of the directive technique; at this stage of growth, the leader still gives explicit instructions to their team or team members, but they focus more on eliciting opinion and leading people through the decision-making process. When a team member is at the S2 level, leaders should consider the coaching leadership style – they are seasoned, but there is still potential for them to grow emotionally and professionally. A situational leader is dedicated to their team’s development.


By allowing a team at the S3 level to make regular decisions, the situational leader may aim to encourage them to become more independent in executing responsibilities. This combines the pacesetting and democratic leadership styles; high-level problem resolution remains the leader’s responsibility, but mature and capable team members are allowed to actively engage in some decision-making. The situational leader becomes responsive to fresh ideas from team members of all levels by opening up some portions of the decision-making or troubleshooting process to their team.


When working with a mature and capable team, the situational leader gradually reduces their supervision and involvement in team members’ everyday duties. The leader is involved at the S4 level when discussing tasks and deciding on the goals to be reached, but team members thereafter have complete autonomy in how they want to achieve these goals. In this situation, a situational leader will discover that a democratic leadership style is more available, encouraging their followers to take on greater responsibilities. Highly motivated team members can aid in the future development of a leader’s initial vision, as well as becoming aware of and growing what is described as “the collective consciousness of the entire business.”


It takes a lot of guts for a leader to experiment with many leadership styles in order to determine which one is best. Most executives stick to a method of operation that has proven to be effective in the past. A situational leader, on the other hand, is not hesitant to take risks and adopt a completely different leadership style when the situation calls for it. The situational leader pushes the project and its basic concepts while keeping open to new inspiration from smart, experienced followers. Authoritative, democratic, and pacesetting leadership styles are helpful here. The situational leader sets high standards for their followers and is helpful in getting a project off the ground as the pacesetter.


Situational leaders put their organization’s long-term viability first and motivate their followers without manipulating the situation. They are growth-oriented, and they are dedicated to strengthening their company’s organisational structure and ensuring its long-term viability. This entails adjusting in the most effective way possible, taking into account aspects such as the maturity level of followers, the organisational structure and culture, and the desired outcomes. Situational leaders act with integrity and are not motivated by a desire to take advantage of the team’s or organization’s shortcomings. A leader who is a strong pacesetter must ensure that their followers do not burn out and understand when to respond to their needs.

Clear Vision

The situational leader has a clear picture of the team’s and project’s future. This is what enables a leader to recognise and implement the most effective behaviours and techniques for achieving their objectives. Self-assured leaders use the authoritative style: they are excellent change agents who understand how to assemble the most effective team, what qualities they seek in team members, how their team should function, and which team members will assist them in realising their vision and providing future inspiration.


The situational leader does not claim to know everything; they have learnt when to prioritise people over their organization’s needs. They have the humility to accept limits and seek the group’s higher wisdom when they have highly developed and mature followers. In contrast, when their team’s morale is poor, it’s up to the situational leader to collaborate and rebuild self-worth in the team, prioritising collaboration and dispute resolution; in this case, the leader is adopting a “affiliative” leadership style.

Advantages of Situational Leadership

The advantages of situational leadership are as follows-

  1. The situational leader can change his approach depending on the scenario.
  2. It’s a straightforward strategy with a lot of versatility and intuitiveness.
  3. Situational leadership allows team members to feel relaxed and at ease.
  4. It considers the various stages of development.
  5. There is a higher likelihood of open conversation.
  6. Situational leadership aids in the development of positive relationships between the team leader and the members of the team.

Disadvantages of Situational Leadership

The disadvantages of situational leadership are as follows-

  1. Because he is not designed to make changes based on the demands of his workforce, every manager cannot easily adapt to the mantle of situational leadership.
  2. Situational leadership prioritises short-term aims and present requirements over long-term objectives.
  3. Defining each team member’s maturity level is a difficult undertaking that requires patience, time, and a lot of effort.
  4. In task-oriented organisations where you must adhere to a rigid set of regulations, norms, and rules, situational leadership has proven unproductive.
  5. The mission will tumble like a house of cards if a situational leader misreads any situation.
  6. Situational leadership is founded on the concept that the leader must adjust his approach according to the needs of the moment, which might lead to misunderstanding.
  7. It promotes corporate reliance.

The strength of the situational leadership theory is equal to the strength of its leader. If the leader is not up to the task, the situation may devolve into disorder.

Examples of Situational Leadership

1) Steve Jobs

The influence of Apple’s most famous leader, Steve Jobs, is responsible for the company’s great success. While most people equate Jobs with forceful, commanding leadership, his approach was far more sophisticated than most people realise. Jobs’ well-known product releases were more than just a method to pique consumer interest in new products. Jobs used the launches as a way to sell his vision to his workers. Jobs had a unique knack of inspiring teams to pursue ideas that were unpopular among coworkers, despite the huge success they would later achieve. He was also capable of taking a delegative leadership style. Jobs wanted to hire the top people in fields he didn’t know much about. He did this in the hopes that, like his tremendous success in starting the Pixar movie company, they would be able to achieve success without his direct involvement.

2) Jack Stahl

From 1978 to 2000, Jack Stahl served as the president of Coca-Cola, where he was responsible for running a successful organisation and ensuring that it remained at the top. Stahl remarked in an interview about his leadership priorities that the finest leaders are situational, able to approach a situation and evaluate the level of commitment required of them.

Stahl claims to have learned this from an incident early in his career. When Stahl was asked to produce a prospectus for a public offering, he assigned the task without properly establishing the level of supervision required. When the project failed, Stahl realised he needed to know when to jump in and take charge. This type of active situational leadership is essential for effectively leading various teams. You may design a managerial technique that works best for each group and enhances the organisation by engaging with teams, individuals, and departments.

Situational Leadership in Research

As a counter to the advent of trait-based leadership, situational leadership emerged. Back then, social scientists felt that time intervention shapes any person or leader; in other words, Karl Marx, Hebert Spencer (1884), and Carlyle all believed that time is the key to producing a leader. Psychologists assumed that there is no such thing as an ideal leader profile, and that no two leaders are same. As a result, all circumstances should be treated differently, as each one has its own unique characteristics. Based on a descriptive model of leadership atmosphere, academics drew on Lewin’s (1935) research and established three types of leadership styles. Miltenberger (Miltenberger, 2011).

Situational leadership is a leadership paradigm that combines both directive and supportive dimensions, with each component being employed correctly in a specific context. Leaders that follow the Situational Leadership philosophy must assess their staff by assessing their commitment to completing a certain task. Situational leadership requires leaders to adjust their level of assistance and directness to their employees based on their subordinates’ current position and motivation. Leaders must adjust their conduct and leadership style in response to their subordinates’ commitment in this sort of leadership. (2009, Kindle)

Task behaviour, worker dedication, and relational conduct combine to form situational leadership. The success of situational leadership style is linked to the combination of these three components, according to studies; it allows for openness between leaders and members while also assuring independence and competency in employee decision-making. A situational leader seeks to understand his or her follower’s traits in order to determine which leadership style to employ with him or her. (2012, Farmer) Furthermore, situational leaders are known for providing their subordinates with necessary direction and task support in order to achieve the desired results. In order to overcome issues, this type of leader must think creatively and swiftly. According to studies, this is strongly linked to an increase in staff productivity. (Cnaff & Wright, 2013).

CIted from: Ghazzawi, Khalil & Osta, Bernard & Choughri, Radwan. (2017). Situational Leadership and Its Effectiveness in Rising Employee Productivity: A Study on North Lebanon Organization. Human Resource Management Research (2169-9607). 7. 102-110. 10.5923/j.hrmr.20170703.02. 

What Does A Situational Leader Do?

In terms of experience, work capacities, thinking process, and ownership of tasks, each human person is unique. A situational leader recognises this and works with each of his team members personally. He understands the importance of flexibility and distributes assignments based on his followers’ abilities rather than what he wants them to do.

The situational leader seeks to foster an atmosphere in which all team members are encouraged to step up and contribute. A situation is established in which team members feel at ease and can readily gel with one another in order to achieve a favourable conclusion. The situational leadership idea assists a leader in motivating his team so that they are content and happy at work.

The situation is this: Instead of lumping all of its members into one group and allocating tasks to them as a collective, leadership considers each individual’s condition as well as the workforce. Its purpose is to assess team members’ skill levels, increase their motivation, and assign tasks based on their ability. It’s a one-of-a-kind technique that has the potential to boost team efficiency and output.

If a situational leader wants to reap the benefits of success, he must stay alert. He must be open to assessing any changes in the surroundings as well as his team members’ behaviour. For certain people, certain days can be stressful, and the leader must realise this and create a strategy to help him stay productive.

It’s all about adaptability and intuition when it comes to situational leadership. It allows individuals to create their own pace, ensuring that minor conflicts do not detract from the team’s and organization’s goals. Situational leadership focuses on immediate needs and requirements. It chooses training scenarios that will increase the members’ efficiency. It provides prospects for the company’s expansion.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the popular situational leadership theory?

The Contingent or Situational Leadership Style has been studied for a long time. The three models presented here provide final shape to the situational leadership model we are familiar with today. The popular situational leadership theories are as follows Fiedler’s contingency theory, Hersey-Blanchard’s situational model, and House’s path-goal theory.

What are the advantages of situational leadership?

The following are some of the advantages of situational leadership:

Depending on the situation, the situational leader can alter his approach.

It’s a simple method with a lot of flexibility and intuitiveness to it.

Team members are more relaxed and at ease when they are led by situational leadership.

It takes into account the different stages of development.

What are the disadvantages of situational leadership?

The following are some of the disadvantages of situational leadership:

Every manager cannot simply adapt to the mantle of situational leadership because he is not designed to make changes based on the demands of his staff.

Short-term goals and current needs take precedence over long-term goals under situational leadership.

Determining each team member’s maturity level is a difficult task that necessitates patience, time, and a significant amount of effort.

Situational leadership has proven ineffective in task-oriented organisations where strict standards, conventions, and rules must be followed.

What are the characteristics of the situational leadership style?

There are many various leadership styles in the world, and most leaders have their own leadership style due to their unique personalities. The following are some of the basic characteristics of the situational leadership style:


Who are the most important situational leadership examples?

Steve Jobs: Apple’s enormous success can be attributed to Steve Jobs, the company’s most recognised leader. While most people associate Jobs with demanding, powerful leadership, his strategy was significantly more complex than most people realise. Jobs’ well-known product launches were more than just a way to stimulate interest in new items among consumers.