A Situational Approach uses directive and supportive methods to guide a group, or individual, to achieve their goals (Northouse, 2016). This approach is more commonly used in situations that are constantly changing and where the leader needs to change the method of guiding, or teaching, the team. The Situational Leadership II model was refined by Blanchard et al. (2013) and focuses of four different styles that can be used in different situations. A security Flight Chief, at my work center, manages four teams of 20 personnel each, so roughly 80 members. They are overly responsible for ensuring that those teams are properly maintaining security for our installation. Other than ensuring the base is secure, another very important job of the Flight Chief is to train each of the four Team Leaders on how to properly lead their teams. There are many tasks that a Team Leader needs to understand before they jump in front of the team. First off, they need to understand how to manage their team. This includes adjusting work schedules, maintaining accurate training records, how to handle interpersonal problems between team members, completing quarterly and annual reports for all of their members, and recognizing their outstanding performers by putting them up for awards. The four styles of the Situational Leadership II model can be directly applied to how a Flight Chief needs to train a Team Leader to be an effective leader.
The first style is the “Directing” style and is described as a high directive – low supportive way of leading (Northouse, 2016, pp. 94). The main focus of this stage is achieving goals established by the Flight Chief. These goals will be defined during a sit-down meeting called a feedback, and then the Flight Chief would analyze how the Leader is performing during the process. This stage would be used to evaluate where a Team Leader is performing so far as a leader. It will show the Flight Chief where the Leader is performing well at and where the improvement areas are. After these areas are established, they can move on to the second style.
The second style is the “Coaching” stage and is described as a high directive – high supportive method of leading (Northouse, 2016, pp. 94). In this stage, the Flight Chief will continue to give goals to the Leaders, but will be involved in the learning process of these tasks. This would be used for a Leader that is motivated to learn, but has a way to go before being in charge of a team. This style is similar to the methods that a sports coach may use to go about teaching their team certain skills. They direct tasks and are very involved in supporting the Leader’s approach towards achieving that task, to include being mindful of the different learning styles that each Leader may have. The Flight Chief will continue to encourage the Leaders throughout this stage until they feel that the Leader is competent to complete these tasks on their own. Once the Flight Chiefs is fairly confident with the leader, they may move on to the third style of the Situational Leadership II model.
The third stage is referred to as the “Supporting” stage and is a high supportive – low directive style of leading (Northouse, 2016, pp. 95). In this stage, the Flight Chief begins to let the Leader make some decisions on their own, but is involved in the decision making process. They continue to evaluate the Leader’s decisions but give room for them to make simple mistakes. Making mistakes in this stage is great and builds the problem-solving skills of that Leader. They may only need to be shown how to perform a task once or twice and then be proficient at that task. The Flight Chief will continue to give feedback to the individual and either praise or critique then on their decisions. After this stage the Leader will either move on to the fourth stage, or back to the second if they need more coaching.
The fourth leadership style is called “Delegating” and is a low supportive – low directive method of leading (Northouse, 2016, pp. 95). In this stage, the Flight Chief gives the Leader control of the reins and lets them fully make decisions. This is where every Team Leader is expected to be operating out of. Here they will be planning their team’s training days, developing their work schedule, and directing the younger teammates towards goals of their own. These Team Leaders are given the ability to make their own decisions as to which way they would like to take their team. The Flight Chief tends to leave these Leaders alone unless it is absolutely necessary to intervene.
I personally really like the Situational Leadership II model and feel that it is an effective method to develop the members of my team. One of the great qualities of this model is that it remains flexible at all times. There isn’t one stage that an individual could get stuck at and they can continue to get better, even when they are thriving in the Delegating stage. I was taught to be a leader by the use of this model, whether or not my mentor realized it. It is commonly used in the military because of its effectiveness and will continue to be used at my base to develop great leaders.
Blanchard, K., Zigarmi, P., & Zigarmi, D. (2013). Leadership and the one minute manager increasing effectiveness through Situational Leadership II. New York: William Morrow.
Northouse, P. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice, Seventh Edition. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.