Can A Manager Simultaneously Be A Servant And Situational Leader?
What does it take to be a successful leader? To some, a successful leader is one that is supportive and guiding. To others, this guiding support may be seen as micromanaging. Ambiguity, though a weakness of situational leadership, is also something that forms the basis of a qualitative leadership strategy. Situational leadership is a leadership style that consists of behaviors adapted to fulfill the demands of a situation (Northouse, 2016). Northouse defines leadership as a process where an individual exerts influence in order to achieve a common goal (2016). This process is evolving and, as such, requires a flexible style of leadership.
Situational leadership is a flexible leadership style that is concerned with developmental level progression and regression (Shonhiwa, 2016). It is because subordinates are constantly progressing and regressing in development that leaders must have flexible leadership behavior that matches the needs of the subordinate based on the situation (Shonhiwa, 2016). Overall, situational leadership has been praised for its ease to be applied in an organizational setting (Northouse, 2016). However, as mentioned previously, it is an ambiguous leadership style. This is in part because it operates on a scale that is open to interpretation. Leadership support and subordinate development are both levels that are measured on a level system from one to four. A support level is the degree of support or involvement given to subordinates from leadership or a lack thereof. Development levels are similar but are based not on a leader’s involvement but on a subordinate’s commitment and confidence in their ability- competence- to complete a task (Shonhiwa, 2016). Similarly to servant leadership style, situational leadership is concerned with the development of subordinates while also remaining conscious of environmental factors that would progress or regress subordinates on their developmental scale.
Servant leadership is an extremely relationship reliant leadership style. Servant leadership is based on the idea that a leader has a desire to motivate and guide subordinates through an established close relationship (Choudhary, Akhtar, & Zaheer, 2013). Servant leadership is one that requires a high sense of emotional intelligence. Active listening and empathy are important portions of servant leadership according to Northouse’s account of Greenleaf’s first conceptualization of servant leadership (2016). Based on the emotional and situational awareness required for servant leadership to be successful, it is not a stretch to say leaders who take up the servant leadership style are individuals with a high level of emotional and social intelligence. Ultimately, the servant leadership style is one that works cohesively with other leadership styles that are concerned with the wellbeing and growth of subordinates.
Together, the servant leadership and situational leadership styles take the emotional, personal, and professional development of subordinates and put them at the forefront of their leadership plan. In order for these leaders to be fulfilled in their work, they rely on the progression of their subordinates in addition to having goal-oriented success. In their studies, Choudhary et al. found that there was a positive correlation between performance and the application of servant leadership. This means that through training, leaders were able to elevate their team’s success through adhering to a relationship-based approach. However, though servant leadership is hugely relationship-based it is lacking a bit in the environmental aspect. Organizations have become more complex over time and now require a dynamic leadership style (Choudhary et al., 2013). This is where the simultaneous use of both styles is beneficial. Servant leadership strongly enforces the relationship between a leader and their subordinates while situational leadership offers an aspect of environmental awareness. This environmental awareness allows leaders to be more adaptive to each task and thus leads to a more elevated support system for subordinates. In this case of leadership styles, two is better than one!
Choudhary, A., Akhtar, S., & Zaheer, A. (2013). Impact of Transformational and Servant Leadership on Organizational Performance: A Comparative Analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 433-440. Retrieved February 16, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/42001931
MacDonald, A. (2019, July). 12 Essential Leadership Insights. Retrieved from https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/12-essential-leadership-insights/
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice. 7th Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
Shonhiwa, Dr. C. (2016). An Examination of the Situational Leadership Approach: Strengths and Weaknesses. Cross-Currents: An International Peer-Reviewed Journal on Humanities & Social Sciences, 2(2), 35–40. doi: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/503e/4d6366b7f533f4b1ba6c341ea77c9a01f72c.pdf
Stanleigh, M. (2017, February). New Trends in Leadership. Retrieved from https://bia.ca/new-trends-in-leadership/