The Blanchard and Hersey Model As a leadership model, the best known example
was developed by Ken Blanchard, the management guru who later became famous for
his "One Minute Manager" series, and Paul Hersey. They created a model of
situational leadership in the late 1960s that allows one to analyse the needs of
the situation, then adopt the most appropriate leadership style. It has proved
popular with managers over the years because it is simple to understand, and it
works in most environments for most people.
The model rests on two fundamental concepts; leadership style, and development
Blanchard and Hersey characterised leadership style in terms of the amount of
direction and support that the leader provides to his or her followers. They
categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types, which they named S1
S1: Directing Leaders define the roles and tasks of the 'follower', and
supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so
communication is largely one-way.
S2: Coaching Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and
suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but
communication is much more two-way.
S3: Supporting Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and
processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions,
but control is with the follower.
S4: Delegating Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving,
but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader
will be involved.
Of these, no one style is considered optimal or desired for all leaders to
possess. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves
according to the situation. However, each leader tends to have a natural style,
and in applying Situational Leadership she must know her intrinsic style.
Development levels The right leadership style will depend on the person being
led - the follower. Blanchard and Hersey extended their model to include the
Development Level of the follower. They stated that the leader's chosen style
should be based on the competence and commitment of her followers. They
categorized the possible development of followers into four levels, which they
named D1 to D4:
D1: Low Competence, High Commitment - They generally lack the specific skills
required for the job in hand, However, they are eager to learn and willing to
D2: Some Competence, Low Commitment - They may have some relevant skills, but
won't be able to do the job without help. The task or the situation may be new
D3: High Competence, Variable Commitment - They are experienced and capable,
but may lack the confidence to go it alone, or the motivation to do it well or
D4: High Competence, High Commitment - They are experienced at the job, and
comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They may even be more skilled
than the leader.
Development Levels are also situational. I might be generally skilled,
confident and motivated in my job, but would still drop into Level D1 when
faced, say, with a task requiring skills I don't possess. For example, many
managers are D4 when dealing with the day-to-day running of their department,
but move to D1 or D2 when dealing with a sensitive employee issue.
Leadership/development matching Blanchard and Hersey said that the leadership
style (S1 - S4) of the leader must correspond to the development level (D1 - D4)
of the follower. Furthermore it is the leader who must adapt, not the follower.
To get the most of situational leadership, a leader should be trained in how to
operate effectively in various leadership styles, and how to determine the
development level of others.
Notes Compiled by
Corporate Soft Skills Trainer
For further inputs
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