“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”
This week I had the pleasure of leading a workshop for teachers, administrators, and coaches of NYC private schools. The focus of the day was on “Cultivating Leadership In and Out of the Classroom.” In addition to providing the participants with the various mental training tools I have already discussed throughout this blog, I also shared a wonderful model from Sport Psychology called Situational Leadership.
Being a strong and good leader is not an easy task. Ultimately, a leader wants to elicit high productivity from their followers. Situational Leadership is a model developed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey with the purpose of helping people in leadership roles to be more efficient and effective in their daily interactions with others. Different than a theory, a model is developed through “concepts, procedures, actions, and outcomes [that] are based on methodologies that are practical and easy to apply.” **
The model consists of four different leadership styles (S1, S2, S3, S4) that are to be used in relationship with the “readiness” levels (R1, R2, R3, R4) of the followers. Readiness is determined by the ability the follower has to complete a skill/task and the willingness of the follower. Below is a simple breakdown of the follower’s readiness level and the appropriate leadership style to use.
R 1 – follower is unable to execute the skill/task and is unwilling or insecure. Leader should use an S 1 style: Directing. In Directing, the leader is providing clear and specific instructions to the follow (what, when, how, where, why) and then closely supervising their performance. The communication is very one-way coming straight from leader to follow. Key words for this style are telling, guiding, and establishing.
R 2 – follower is still unable to execute the skill/task completely, but is more willing and open. Leader should use an S 2 style: Coaching. In Coaching, the leader is continuing to explain and providing opportunity for clarification, but is also starting to bring in more two-way communication between the follower. Key words for this style are selling, explaining, and persuading.
R 3 – follower is able to execute the skill/task, but is unwilling or insecure. This stage happens usually when people begin to have self doubts about their ability or are not motivated because they aren’t being challenged enough. Leader should use an S 3 style: Supporting. In Supporting, the leader is encouraging the sharing of ideas and is there to help facilitate decision making, but is not making the decisions. Two-way communication is strong. The leader is the cheerleader to the follower helping them to believe in their ability. Key words for this style are participating, encouraging, committing, and collaborating.
R 4 - follower is able to execute the skill/task and is willing/secure. Leader should us an S 4 style: Delegating. In Delegating, the leader is turning over responsibility to the follower for decision making and implementation. The leader should still have a presence, but is implementing low directive and low supportive behavior because the trust and confidence have already been built with the follower. Key words for this style are observing, fulfilling, and monitoring.
Situational Leadership is a great model to use in all areas of our lives (personal relationships, reflecting on ourselves, parent/child relationships, etc.) as well as in a variety of professional fields (coaching, education, business/management, etc.). By using these different leadership styles correctly, a leader will be able to not only elicit the highest productivity from their followers, but also empower their followers.
** Hersey, Paul, Blanchard, Kenneth, and Johnson, Dewey. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources. Prentice Hall Business Publishing: April 1996.
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