Leaders are essential for organizations and businesses because they have the capacity to guide teams, set goals, and find means for achieving these objectives. Although the concept of leadership is ubiquitous, not all individuals have the traits to become leaders. Furthermore, there are a variety of leadership styles, which means people may be considered leaders despite having different characteristics. I personally prefer situational leadership because I believe that flexibility is important when making decisions and communicating with teams. To improve my capabilities of being a leader, I should enhance my interpersonal communication skills and become emotionally intelligent.
Leadership is one of the most frequently used words on resumes and one of the most vital constituents of any successful business. Despite these facts, not all people are leaders, and this skill does not come inherently (Dugan, 2017). There are entire academic programs aimed at fostering leadership capabilities in individuals. Leadership theory helps explain why some persons become influential and inspiring leaders, while others are more capable of accomplishing functional tasks.
Combinations of specific traits and behaviors can be assumed in order to express leadership (Dugan, 2017). There are a variety of styles, however, each of which has different levels of efficacy. For instance, there are leaders who primarily focus on achieving organizational objectives at all costs, while others perceive more value from team-building and interpersonal relationships. I personally advocate for situational leadership because, under different circumstances, a true leader should be able to act accordingly.
To understand the principles behind situational leadership, one needs to understand task behavior and relationship behavior. The first term describes a situation when a leader delegates tasks to subordinates entirely (Thompson & Glasø, 2018). Relationship behavior is when a leader always guides subordinates in solving problems (Walls, 2019). There are four styles that are constructed from a combination of task behavior and relationship behavior (Thompson & Glasø, 2018). These four styles are applied to the following four situations, respectively.
Workers may lack expertise but are highly motivated, they may have some skills but lack motivation, they may be proficient but may lack confidence, or they may be experienced and ready to take responsibility. It is evident that a workplace may feature subordinates in different situations. While some individuals may be proficient in all tasks, others may need support and guidance. Situational leadership is when a person is flexible and applies different techniques to varying circumstances.
Application in a Specific Context
I am an Accounting Manager who works for a K-8 school district. My responsibilities include supervising three accountants and ensuring that the organization follows all regulations and legal requirements when reporting financial information. Moreover, I periodically need to report top managers about possible ways of improving current organizational processes.
The accounting field is a vast area, and it is impossible to be proficient in every aspect of financial reporting. Since there are only four people in our accounting team, it is imperative that all of us have knowledge in the majority of areas. For instance, one of the accountants is experienced in payrolls, while others are more comfortable working with tax returns. When it comes to compliance, I have to take active participation and assist my subordinates in learning new concepts and applying them successfully.
A task-centric leader would have set goals and ordered the workers to learn and accomplish the objectives on their own. However, I favor situational leadership – I can support the people I oversee when they lack motivation or confidence, teach them when they do not have the required skills, and delegate when they are confident and experienced. I believe not all situations and people are equal, and each setting and individual deserve a tailored consideration.
Improving My Leadership Style
One of the most critical elements in situational leadership is correctly assessing circumstances. A wrong evaluation may lead to choosing an irrelevant technique. For instance, I may decide that an accountant has enough expertise to conduct an internal audit and delegate the task without providing any knowledge or support. If I am wrong, then the consequences are going to be drastic. For an accurate evaluation, I need to have more experience and skills in identifying various human behaviors and be proficient in effective communication. By improving these elements, I will be able to make correct assessments.
Situational leadership is about adapting to the needs of a specific person. In this context, interpersonal relationships are vital, which means that a leader has to be proficient in emotional intelligence (Mattingly & Kraiger, 2019). Empathy helps a person to perceive what another individual is feeling and experiencing (Mattingly & Kraiger, 2019). This knowledge will aid decision-making and selecting an appropriate technique for a given situation.
Leadership theory explores what constitutes a leader and what traits one needs to possess to become one. Among a variety of styles, situational leadership is the most efficient from my perspective. This style allows a person to tailor communications and decisions based on specific circumstances. Knowing what technique to employ in a given situation is significant, and therefore, one needs to practice this type of decision-making in order to become a more effective leader.
Dugan, J. P. (2017). Leadership theory: Cultivating critical perspectives. John Wiley & Sons.
Mattingly, V., & Kraiger, K. (2019). Can emotional intelligence be trained? A meta-analytical investigation. Human Resource Management Review, 29(2), 140-155. Web.
Thompson, G., & Glasø, L. (2018). Situational leadership theory: A test from a leader-follower congruence approach. Leadership & Organization Development Journal. Web.
Walls, E. (2019). The value of situational leadership. Community Practitioner: The Journal of the Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association, 92(2), 31-33.