The premise of the situational leadership approach demands that a leader match his/her style to the competence and commitment of the followers. Effective leaders recognize what employees need and adapt their own style to match those needs. (Jayne, n.d). The difference between what the leader sees and what the follower sees as a follower’s competence and commitment can lead to the perception of micromanagement.
A situation could occur where a leader assigns a new project to a subordinate. The leader finds the subordinate a developmental-level one follower and unable but willing/confident to perform the tasks involved. The level of the subordinate’s readiness is leader directed and the leader has to intervene by directing (Jayne, n.d.). This developmental level offers a subordinate very little autonomy in performing the tasks to complete the project because of the constant oversight and direction the leader believes the subordinate requires.
If the subordinate believes that he or she is a developmental-level four in completing the project, the subordinate feels as if he or she is both able and willing/confident to complete the project. The subordinate’s level of readiness in his or her belief is follower directed and the leader has to intervene minimally by delegating (Jayne, n.d.) – the subordinate sees him or herself as having the skills to complete the project with little leader oversight or direction. When a leader provides direction on a project that the subordinate does not feel he or she needs it creates a sense of micromanagement for the subordinate.
Situational leadership is applicable at both the beginning of a project and during subsequent phases of the project (Northouse, 2013). In order to prevent a sense of micromanagement in the situational leadership approach the leader must remain diligent in keeping abreast of any changes in project specifications to circumvent a subordinate’s potential lack of skill because of the change, the exact depth and breadth of each subordinate’s skills, and exactly where each subordinate is along the developmental continuum in all stages of project completion.
Jayne, B. (n.d.). Lesson 5 (Part 2): Situational Approach. PSYCH485: Leadership in Work Settings. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/su15/psych485/001/content/
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice. Los Angeles. Sage Publications.