Three Reasons Why The Situational Leadership® Approach Is Effective

Here are a few “fun facts” about the Situational Leadership® approach:

  • Over 15,000,000 people have actively participated in one form or another of Situational Leadership® training
  • The Center for Leadership Studies (the global home of the Situational Leadership® Model) has an active presence in 35 countries around the world
  • Situational Leadership® training has been translated into over 20 languages
  • While over 70% of Fortune 500 companies use the Situational Leadership® framework in some aspect of their leadership development efforts, it is also used by medium and small organizations as well
  • It is used by both private and public institutions

So, why is that? What would explain the popularity of this model over the last six decades with all those people?

Strengths of the Situational Leadership® Model

Organizations have an ever-expanding spectrum of criteria that determines why they adopt one leadership methodology over another. Accessibility is a big one these days. Consistency of the learning experience, regardless of delivery modality, is another. Same for translations. But before organizations get into all of that, they usually decide on the content they feel is culturally acceptable and embraceable.

Operating on that assumption, here are reasons we believe the Situational Leadership® content has not only withstood the test of time, but it is also actually gaining traction with organizations serious about building leaders and driving behavior change.

Foundational Research

The Situational Leadership® Model is anchored by a foundation of timeless, pioneering research in leadership development and organizational behavior. From Frederick Winslow Taylor and Scientific Management to Chris Argyris and Immaturity-Maturity Theory, the Situational Leadership® process integrates the contributions of the most prominent researchers of leadership and human motivation.

Oddly enough, those paths were pursued on separate tracks for the longest time. The Situational Leadership® approach provided leaders with a timing mechanism of sorts that demonstrated when a particular style should be used as compared to other available options.

Practical and Understandable

When learners attend their first Situational Leadership® training, two things (almost invariably) occur:

  1. They come to grips with something they have been doing as a leader that they need to adjust. Perhaps they have been delegating to members of their team that don’t have the experience necessary to succeed; or perhaps they have been micromanaging a tenured high performer. This becomes evident as they absorb the common sense associated with matching your style of leadership to the readiness of the follower to perform.
  2. They receive reinforcement for something they have been doing right (i.e., matching their approach to the needs of a follower).

In either case, we refer to the experience as an “a-ha moment” … and they literally happen on a regular and recurring basis with Situational Leadership® learners! A big part of transferring any kind of training takes place during the training itself. Do learners understand the content? Do they feel that content is relevant to their role? Do they see themselves being able to successfully use it when they return to the job?

For over 50 years the answers to these questions from the participants in Situational Leadership® training has been overwhelmingly: Yes!

Relationship Between the Situational Leadership® Approach and Trust

It is difficult to imagine a leader being successful if his or her people don’t trust them. If leadership is an “attempt to influence,” then trust is “influence potential.” But what do you do as a leader to build trust if you don’t have it?

One way is to match your approach with the needs of the person you are attempting to influence. It might not happen immediately. But if a follower sees a leader making a conscious effort to align their approach on a task-by-task basis over time, trust is established. And, when trust is established, the leader has increased potential to effectively influence moving forward.

But the “net-net,” bottom-line strength of the Situational Leadership® process is that it works! It helps leaders drive productivity, enhance employee engagement and retain key talent.

Is the Situational Leadership® Approach the Best Leadership Approach?

It is difficult to imagine a comprehensive leadership development curriculum that did not include the Situational Leadership® Model. Its history and its use by so many organizations across so many industries position it as core, common and critical content for leaders at all levels in an organization—and beyond!

And that may well be one of the most significant arguments for investing in Situational Leadership® training as an approach to developing leaders. It does more than simply help managers increase their success and effectiveness coaching the members of their team. Since leadership is a multidirectional dynamic, a Situational Leader is also more effective:

  • As a follower contracting for a leadership style with their boss
  • As a peer attempting to influence others without formal authority
  • As a parent influencing their family outside the workplace

The skills of a seasoned Situational Leader reach far beyond the confines of the organization that sponsored the learning.

Additionally, the Situational Leadership® mindset tethers to other core content as well or better than any other leadership methodology.

  • Emotional Intelligence: Situational Leaders are aware of their approach, aware of the impact that approach is having on others, recognize the harmful impact of acting impulsively as a leader and can/do demonstrate genuine empathy when need be
  • Power: As mentioned above, leadership is “an attempt to influence,” and power is” influence potential.” Situational Leaders leverage position power when they need to hold people accountable and (more than anything) develop and leverage personal power (trust) at every opportunity
  • Communication Models: There are synergistic effects when organizations intentionally integrate Situational Leadership® training with DiSC® or Social Styles® training. A follower who is an “Amiable” may manifest insecurity much differently than a follower who is a “Driver” or an “Analytic.” Using these models together adds leadership depth

What’s the Opposite of a Situational Leader?

The opposite of a Situational Leader is the kind of leader that approaches their responsibilities with a “my way or the highway” mentality. They have an approach that works for them! They have a way they make decisions! They have a patten of communicating with others! And they expect everyone around them (especially those that report directly to them) to adjust their behavior on the basis of those preferences.

Do these managers exist? Unfortunately, yes. What are some of the predictable outcomes that identify their presence:

  • Productivity: Hard to tell! Sometimes poor managers deliver short-term results in spite of their rigidity and tunnel vision
  • Engagement: Not hard to tell … or predict! Working for the manager described above almost guarantees low levels of commitment, creativity and concern. Your role as a contributor working for an “anti” Situational Leader is to do whatever they tell you to do, whether it makes sense or not!
  • Retention: Again, easy to predict! The minute a better opportunity comes along employees will take it (and the employees with the most talent and potential most of all!). Gallup research has proven this time and time again that the primary reason people leave organizations is the relationship (or lack of relationship) they have with their immediate supervisor

Good leadership is Situational Leadership®.  Poor leadership is whatever the opposite of that translates to.

Still Not Convinced?

Still not convinced that the Situational Leadership® Model is still effective? Check out these testimonials!

Improve Your Teams With Learning Solutions From The Center for Leadership Studies

At The Center for Leadership Studies, we have been at the forefront of leadership development for over 50 years. We truly believe, on the basis of our current reality, that the Situational Leadership® Model is more relevant today than it ever has been for leaders across industries and in every walk of life.

Leading people successfully and effectively is not easy. Every opportunity presents unique challenges because people have unique needs in combination with varying levels of relevant experience and skill. The Situational Leadership® Model can help leaders navigate those challenges and match their approach to the performance needs of those they are attempting to influence.

Contact us to learn more.