Hersey-Blanchard's Model of Situational Leadership

Chapter 10 / Lesson 2
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  • 0:05 Situational Leadership…
  • 1:50 The Leadership Style Matrix
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Hersey-Blanchard's Model of Situational Leadership assumes that follower maturity is a major indicator of an employee's readiness to perform work. There are four leadership styles associated with the model: delegating, participating, selling and telling.

Situational Leadership and Follower Maturity

Hersey-Blanchard's situational leadership contends that leaders must adjust their leadership style according to the maturity of their 'followers' or employees. The maturity of the employee directly influences their readiness to work.

As we learn about the readiness factors, let's look at how situational leadership works in the sales department of Conglom Financial Services, Inc. Conglom Financial is a large investment firm. The sales team is made up of many employees with varying abilities and confidence levels. Some employees have a lot of experience selling investment products like stocks and insurance policies. Others are enthusiastic about selling but lack experience doing the job. And there are some employees in between.

Mr. Cash, sales director at Conglom Financial, looks at two factors to determine the maturity level of his followers (or employees): follower ability and follower confidence.

Follower ability is the degree to which a follower has the skills and ability to perform a task. A follower who possesses experience at a particular skill will need less instruction than one who has little experience. Interns with little experience in the financial world would need far more instruction than a seasoned salesperson. When an employee does not possess the skills to perform a task, he will need plenty of direction.

Follower confidence is the degree to which a follower believes he or she can perform a particular task. A follower with a high level of confidence will need less direction than one who feels little confidence in his or her ability to complete the task. A salesperson with tenure at Conglom has a high level of confidence, so he needs less direction than a newer salesperson. This employee is highly motivated, and that makes learning the skill easier.

The Leadership Style Matrix

Leaders must be able to change their leadership style to deal with different employees possessing various skill levels. The right leadership style for each employee or group of employees is decided by using a matrix. The matrix is divided into four sections representing four possible leadership styles: delegating, participating, selling and telling.

Delegating is necessary when the follower is ready, willing and able to perform a particular task. This follower has a high level of confidence in his or her ability to perform. Decisions are turned over to this follower. There is little need to build a relationship because the follower shows a high level of maturity and can perform with little to no direct supervision or instruction. This is defined on the matrix as low-task, low-relationship style.

At Conglom Financial, Mr. Cash uses a delegating style for his most senior salespeople. These employees have been with the company for many years. They worked on major sales projects and wrote many insurance policies over the years. They are given client names and phone numbers and left to do their job without any further direction or supervision.

Participating is necessary when the follower is able but unwilling to perform a particular task. The unwillingness is generally due to low confidence in his or her ability to perform. The leader must participate by sharing ideas with the follower. There is need to build a relationship because although the follower shows a medium level of maturity and the ability to perform, he or she needs the extra coaching from the leader. This is defined as low-task, high-relationship style.

When working with newer salespeople, Mr. Cash uses a participating style. These workers have been trained but only worked with clients while working with a more senior salesperson. These newer salespeople are able to open accounts and sell securities but are concerned that they may do something wrong. Mr. Cash participates in the sales pitch and offers advice along the way. This approach eases their jitters, and they are able to sell their services.

Selling is necessary when the follower does not possess the skill or ability to perform but is confident and willing to learn. The leader must explain the task and any decisions regarding how to perform the task to this follower. Although the follower demonstrates medium maturity, there is a need to focus on tasks and build a relationship with the follower. The leader must persuade this follower to take direction. A persuasive leader can sell the decisions to the follower. Training and follow-up are necessary. This is defined on the matrix as high-task, high-relationship style.

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