Situational Leadership II – Flexibility


Situational Leadership is based on a relationship between the individual’s level of competence and commitment (development level) on a specific goal or task and the amount of direction and support (leadership style) the leader provides.

The three skills that need to be developed to apply situational leadership are the following:

  • Diagnosis – Assessing an individual’s need for direction and support (development level)
  • Flexibility – Using a variety of leadership styles comfortably
  • Partnering for Performance – Reaching agreements with people about their development level and the leadership style needed to help them achieve individual and organization goals

Today, I will be writing today about how to second of three skills: Flexibility.   I recently wrote a blog entry on the first skill – Diagnosis, Assessing An Individual’s Development Level.  The final skill will be on Partnering for Performance.

The second skill to utilize Situational Leadership is to be flexible in applying one of four leadership styles to an individual.  The leader will match one of the four leadership styles to an individual based on the development level of the individual for that task.  It is important to remember that the leadership style is based on a particular task. 

When you completed the first step in Situational Leadership (Diagnosis) you also determine the competence and commitment of the individual for a given task.  Those two elements allowed you to determine the development level.  It is important to know as a leader how to build or raise the competence or commitment of an individual. 

Building Competence and Commitment

The following will provide the information to build these two elements:

  • Provide Direction to Build Competence – to build competence the following components will be needed:
    • Structure – important to know how to work
    • Organize – what are the steps to do the work
    • Teach – help or coach the person on what to do or how to do the work
    • Supervise – provide guidance throughout the task to the individual
    • Evaluate – provide feedback to the person on the work they completed
  • Provide Support to Build Commitment – to build commitment the following components will be needed:
    • Ask (for input) – ask the person what they need help with or how you can help them
    • Listen – be sure to listen to their concerns and avoid being judgmental
    • Facilitate or Problem Solving – provide help to the person by facilitating or problem solving that is needed on a task
    • Explain – be patient and explain the steps or details about the task or activity that the individual is working on
    • Encourage – be sure to encourage them about the work they are doing and the growth that you see in them.

Situational Leadership II defines four leadership styles for leading an individual on a specific task.   The individual’s skill level and motivation for that task indicate the appropriate style to employ.

Leadership Styles

The four leadership styles and the types of activities the leader will use within the respective style:

  • S1 – Directing (Defining, Planning, Orienting, Teaching, Checking/Mentoring, Giving Feedback)
  • S2 – Coaching (Exploring/Asking, Explaining/Clarifying, Redirecting, Sharing Feedback, Encouraging, Praising)
  • S3 – Supporting (Asking/Listening, Reassuring, Collaborating, Encouraging Feedback, Appreciating)
  • S4 – Delegating (Allowing/Trusting, Confirming, Empowering, Acknowledging, Challenging)

Mapping Leadership to Development Level

The last step is to match the leadership style to the development level.   The following diagram will help to see the mapping:

  • S1 Directing style is used for a D1 Enthusiastic Beginner
  • S2 Coaching style is used for a D2 Disillusioned Learner
  • S3 Supporting Style is used for a D3 Capable But Cautious Performer
  • S4 Delegating style is used for a D4 Self Reliant Achiever


I hope that this blog entry will provide you with the second skill needed to apply Situational Leadership.  I will be writing one additional entry to describe the third skill, Partnering for Performance, that you will need to utilize Situational Leadership.

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