Situational leadership model refers to a leadership approach whereby the leader adopts different leadership styles depending on the task maturity and the readiness of his followers (Schermerhorn, 2010). Maturity, in this case, refers to the ability and willingness of the followers to carry out the required tasks. Therefore, successful leaders are those who can adjust their style of leadership depending on the situational factors at hand. The situational leadership can be divided into four components, which include directing style, coaching style, supporting style and delegating style. Mr Faisal is the head of the Arabic department in one of the primary English schools of Dubai. As a leader of five team members in the department, he would need to apply the different components of situational leadership in accomplishing the tasks of the department (Blanchard, 2010).
The orientation of a new member
A case in point where Mr Faisal would use the different leadership styles is when training and orienting a new member posted to the department. Previously, the team that Mr Faisal Leads had four members, therefore, when the fifth member was posted to the department the leader was assigned the task of training the new member. The new member, called Mr Hussein, had just come from college where he had graduated as a teacher; however, he had not taught anywhere. Therefore, the leader was to take him through the tasks he would be expected to accomplish. At this point directing style was appropriate. He was to teach Mr Hussein about the duties of a teacher in the school as outlined by the administration (Blanchard, 2010).
It required the leader to walk the member through to introduce him to the members of the department, explain the performance standards expected of the teacher an how to relate with his colleagues as well as the pupils. The leader would also assign him low-risk duties within the department and closely supervise how the new member was performing.
Through directing style, the new member is not given room to carry out the tasks in his way, therefore, the leader clearly outlines the tasks and monitors any deviation from expectation (Ornstein & Lunenburg, 2007). However, there reaches a time when Mr Hussein has adapted to the system and the leadership style has to change. Here the leader changes to supporting style because the new member is highly motivated but has a relatively low ability. The level of supervision is reduced and Mr Hussein is allowed to make decisions on low-risk tasks. For instance, he can decide how to teach his students effectively.
As the new member continues with his work he might end up not meeting the targets set. For instance, the students might not perform as per the set standards. As a result, Mr Hussein will be disillusioned. Therefore, Mr Faisal needs to come in as the leader of the five-member team and provide leadership support to Mr Hussein. At this point the leader will use coaching style because the member has adequate ability yet is lowly-motivated. Here the leader is dealing with a disillusioned learner therefore his leadership style should be high on support and direction. The leader will adopt a two-way communication whereby he gives advice to the learner and allows him to ask questions and give suggestions. Also, the leader will use praise and emotional support to build the learners confidence (Ornstein & Lunenburg, 2007).
The learner gets back on track, regains his confidence and starts to perform as expected. The leader now adopts the delegating style because the learner is highly motivated and has a high ability for carrying out the required tasks. Here the member is allowed to take responsibility for the task decision and can now be allowed to solely make decisions on behalf of the other team members. The member-only consults when he wants to get the leaders opinion or to give a suggestion on an alternative way of doing things in the department. This shows that a leader can not only use different leadership styles on different people but also can use different styles on the same group of people. This depends on the goal that is to be achieved or type of job at hand (Blanchard, 2010).
Decision making within a team
Mr Faisal has led his team members with different leadership styles since he was appointed to the position by the school management. When he was newly appointed to the position, he used telling or directing style because this was the method that worked at the time considering the situational factors. His appointment was not well received by the other five team members. However, the management expected results and he was answerable to management on the performance of the team. Also, some of the team members were transferred from other teams against their will. Due to these factors, the relationship between the leader and the team members was strained. Furthermore, the members were not willing to take responsibility while some did not believe that they would perform under the new conditions (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2007).
Therefore, the leader had no option but use the directing style in leading the members because tasks had to be carried out. This meant that the leader made decisions individually and announced them to the team members. He would give instructions on what was to be done and closely supervise to ensure no one deviated from his plan. He made no effort of seeking for feedback or ideas from his team members.
Therefore, his type of leadership was task-centred in that he was only focused on the task to be accomplished and not the welfare of the employees (Borkowski, 2010). The style worked relatively well; however, it was characterized by constant misunderstanding. The team members always carried out their duties as they understood them, however, sometimes they would unintentionally go against the leader’s instructions. This would lead to disagreement with the leader as he always thought that the members were out to fail him.
As time went by the leader saw the need for changing his leadership style. This was necessitated by the change in behaviour of the members in his team. Although the members were still not effective in performing their task, they had started to appreciate the leader’s role in giving guidance. As a result, the relationship and trust level between them and the leader improved. The leader, therefore, changed to selling leadership style whereby he explained the tasks to be done in a more supportive and persuasive way (Borkowski, 2010). Mr Faisal would sell an idea to his team members and invite questions from them seeking to find out their opinion on the decisions he made. He also tried to provide a favourable work environment for his team members.
The members of the team also reciprocated to the change in Mr Faisal’s leadership style. They worked to increase their ability in performing the required tasks. They also became more open with the leader and were willing to take responsibility for their decisions. This increased the level of trust between them and their leader further. As a result, the leader adjusted his leadership style, whereby it became less boss-centred and more subordinate centred.
He started using more of participating leadership style. This involved presenting tentative decisions to the members subject to change (Schermerhorn, 2010). He would make decisions and present them to his members who would make some small changes. He later adjusted further whereby he would present a problem to the members and invite suggestions before making a decision. He would then decide on the matter by incorporating the members’ suggestions.
The continued change in leadership style from a more task-centred style to relational style was necessitated by the increased maturity level of the team members. They were more willing to participate in decision making, acknowledged responsibility for delegated tasks and had increased their ability to perform the tasks. Therefore, the team members had the ability and were more confident in performing their tasks. As a result, the leader finally adjusted to the delegating style. This involved defining the limits and then asking the team members to decide on the issue. The employees felt empowered and this motivated them to come up with new ideas on how to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently (Schermerhorn, 2010).
The leader was encouraged by the members’ ability and willingness to take responsibility as well as participate in decision making. Therefore, he further adjusted his leadership style to create more room for incorporating the members in the decision-making process. The leader, therefore, adopted a delegating leadership style whereby he allowed members to carry out tasks in the department without supervision. The members would only consult with the leader in case of any difficultly or under unique circumstances.
However, the relationship did not become completely smooth. Sometimes there would be a misunderstanding between the members of the group and the leader. For instance, there was a time the school administration gave an assignment with very short notice. The leader had to ensure that his members stuck to those conditions. He, therefore, used directing style to ensure the task was accomplished within the deadline. This shows that the culture of the organization also will determine the type of leadership to be applied (Lussier & Achua, 2009).
Situational leadership model is based on the concept that the style of leadership used by a leader will depend on the situational factors that are present in the organization. It has four components, which refer to the different styles that the leader can apply in various situations. These include coaching style, delegating style supporting style and directing style. The factors that will determine which style to use include the maturity of the followers. This is the ability and willingness of the followers to carry out the required tasks. Another factor is the relationship between the leader and the followers, which refers to the level to which the leader can trust his followers with decisions. The relationship also refers to how open the followers can share information with their leader. Lastly, the culture of the organization also plays a key role in determining the style to be used by the leader.
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