When we think of leaders often think of people in a position of power or authority. Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, CEO’s, General’s, etc. What we tend to forget is that the first leaders we were exposed to and ones that play the most vital roles in our lives. I am talking about our parents. Even for those that may not be as fortunate to be raised by their parents, there is still a parental figure in most people’s lives. Parents are tasked with a very difficult task. One that requires many qualities to be effective. One that even more so consists for many different situations where the parents has to apply different forms of leadership to be successful or at least provide their child with proper guidance.
The Situational Approach fits in nicely with the complex relationship that exists with not only being a parent but the various stages of life that children go through. Northouse talks about a continuum that employees go through regarding the development of skills and ability throughout their career. With children this happens very rapidly and in waves. When a child is born they are at the lower end of the development scale D1 from the Situational Leadership II chart (Northouse, 2012, pg. 100). Normally speaking the leader would take on a Directing Style, but the parent-child relationship is much more complex and a coaching style would be effective due to the high directive and high supportive behavior.
As the child gains control of the speech, fine motor skills and coordination they start to become more self-sufficient (as a child) and move along the continuum to where parents can take on a more Supporting Style. However as the child enters each new stage of life. Making friends outside of the family, playing in public, starting school, studying, playing sports, driving a car, romantic relationship, , college, career choices, marriage, etc., there are constant changes throughout their lives. During each of these stages, parents play a very important role that goes beyond the basic leadership level. However what doesn’t change is that their form of leadership needs to change as the situation changes.
One problem that arises is miscommunication which is important and the videos in the lesson commentary (Penn state, Lesson 5) point out. Sometimes one party may not understand why a form of leadership is applied, therefore becoming concerned or upset with the situation due to lack of or too much interaction from leaders. Child rearing is a very difficult task that most people take on without acknowledging the difficult while others don’t appreciate the work that is put in to raising our children.
Penn State World Campus (2013). PSYCH 485 Lesson 5:Styles and Situational Approaches. Retrieved on June 20, 2013, from
Northouse, P. (2012). Leadership: Theory and practice. (6 ed.). Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage Publishing.