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Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 2010
Casey Cosgrove

Chapter 5: Situational Approach Description • Situational Approach developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1969) based on Reddin's (1967) 3-D management style theory • This focuses on leadership in situations • The premise of the theory is that different situations demand different kinds of leadership • Situational leadership stresses that leadership is composed of both a directive and a supportive dimension and that each has to be applied appropriately in a given situation • TO determine what is needed in a particular situation, a leader must evaluate her or his employees and assess how competent and committed they are to perform a given task • Situational leadership suggest that leaders should change the degree to which they are directive or supportive to meet the changing needs of subordinates • The situational leadership demands that leaders match their style to the competence and commitment of the subordinates • Effective leaders are those who can recognize what employees need and then adapt their own style to meet those needs • The situational approach is illustrated in the model developed by Blanchard (1985) and Blanchard et al. (1985) called the Situational Leadership II (SLII) Model • The dynamics of situational leadership are best understood when we separate the SLII model into two parts: ◦ Leadership Style ◦ Development Style of Subordinates • look at pg 100 figure 5.1 Leadership Styles • Leadership styles consists of the behavior pattern of a person who attempts to influence others • It includes both directive (task) behaviors and supportive (relationship) behaviors • Directive Behaviors help group members accomplish goals by giving directions, establishing goals and methods of evaluation, setting time lines, defining roles and showing how the goals are to be achieved • Supportive Behaviors help group members feel comfortable about themselves, their coworkers and the situation ◦ Involve a two-way communication and responses that show social and emotional support to others ◦ Examples include asking for input, solving problems, praising, sharing information about oneself, and listening ◦ Supportive behaviors are mostly job related • Leadership style can be classified further into four distinct categories of directive and supportive behaviors • The first style (S1) is a high directive-low supportive style which is also called a directing style ◦ In this approach, the leader focuses communication on goal achievement, and spends a smaller amount of time using supportive behaviors ◦ Using this style, a leader gives instructions about what and how goals are to be achieved by the subordinates and then supervises them carefully • The second style (S2) is called coaching approach and is a high directive-high supportive style ◦ In this approach the leader focuses communication on both achieving goals and meeting subordinates socio-emotional needs ◦ The coaching style requires that the leader involves himself or herself with subordinates by giving encouragement and soliciting subordinates input ◦ Coaching is an extension of S1 in that it still requires that the leader make the final decision on the what and how of goal accomplishment • The third style (S3) is a supporting approach that requires that the leader take a high supportive – low directive style ◦ In this approach, the leader does not focus exclusively on goals but uses supportive behaviors that bring out the employees skills around the task to be accomplished ◦ The supportive style includes listening, praising, asking for input and giving feedback ◦ A leader using this style gives subordinates control of day to day decisions but remains available to facilitate problem solving ◦ An S3 leader is quick to give recognition and social support to subordinates • The fourth style (S4) is called the low supportive – low directive style or a delegating approach ◦ In this approach, the leader offers less task input and social support, facilitating employees confidence and motivation in reference to the task ◦ The delegative lessens involvement in planning, control of details, and goal clarification ◦ After the group agrees on what it is to do, this style lets subordinates take responsibility for getting the job done the way they see fit ◦ A leader using S4 gives control to subordinates and refrains from intervening with unnecessary social support Development Levels • Development levels is the degree to which subordinates have the competence and commitment necessary to accomplish a given task or activity • Stated another way, it indicates whether a person has mastered the skills to do a specific task and whether a person has developed a positive attitude regarding the task • Employees are at a high development level if they are interested and confident in their work and know how to do the task • Employees are at a low development level if they have little skill for the task at hand but believe that they have the motivation or confidence to get the job done • Employees can be classified into four categories: ◦ D1 ◦ D2 » From low development to high development ◦ D3 ◦ D4 • D1 employees are low in competence and high in commitment ◦ They are new to a task and do not know exactly how to do it, but they are excited about the challenge of it • D2 employees are described as having some competence but low commitment ◦ They have started to learn a job, but they also have lost some of their initial motivation about the job • D3 employees are those who have moderate to high competence but may lack commitment ◦ They have developed the skills for the job, but they are uncertain as to whether they can accomplish the task by themselves • D4 employees are the highest in development, having both a high degree of competence and a high degree of commitment to getting the job done ◦ They have the skills to do the job and the motivation to get it done How Does The Situational Approach Work? • The situational approach is constructed around the idea that employees move forward and backward along the developmental continuum, which represents the relative competence and commitment of subordinates • For leaders to be effective, it is essential that they determine where subordinates are on the developmental continuum and adapt their leadership styles so they directly match their style to that developmental level • The first
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