Four Situational Leadership® Quotes

The Situational Leadership® methodology is a 50 – 50 model. It has been in active use for over 50 years, and it was created approximately 50 years after the discipline of organizational behavior and leadership development began.

Why have over 15 million managers around the world been active participants in one form of Situational Leadership® training or another? It is practical, understandable, relies on common sense and is easy to remember!

This article provides four quotes for your consideration. These quotes speak to the essence of the model’s practicality and utility. They also describe what we would suggest are irrefutable axioms about the art/science of leading people:

  • Leadership isn’t something you do to others; it’s something you do with them (regardless of the style you happen to be employing).
  • Leadership is joined at the hip with achievement (goals; tasks; desired outcomes; targeted results).
  • Leadership is a function of flexibility (It is not about how well others can adjust to you; it is about how well you can adapt to others.).
  • Leadership is never over (Organizations change, jobs change and so do people.).

Situational Leadership® Quotes

“Leadership is not something you do to people, it is something you do with people!”

Traditionally, leadership training was almost exclusively reserved for those who were promoted into formal management positions. Simply put, it was the way the world worked.

Not so much anymore! In many organizations, the indoctrination and onboarding experience of newly hired frontline employees includes training on how to effectively influence others, as well as how to effectively contract for a leadership style with their supervisor. Why? Because those organizations have come to realize it is an operational imperative.

Probably more than anything else, change is the reason employees need to be prepared to lead on day one regardless of their formal position. Change has become increasingly disruptive. Organizations no longer have the luxury of waiting until top management develops a plan to respond when change hits, then methodically communicates that plan to all. The daunting nature of contemporary change requires an agile, real-time, transparent discussion that actively involves everyone.

In that regard, leadership is not something that one layer of management does to the layer(s) beneath it in the formal structure. Leadership is something everybody does together. We discuss our goals in full view and acknowledgement of the obstacles that threaten their achievement. Then we align on a path forward, measure incremental progress and calibrate as needed.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any path will get you there!”

There is a memorable scene in Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” where Alice comes to a fork in the road and looks up to find the Cheshire Cat in a tree. She asks, “Which road do I take?” The cat asks, “Where do you want to go?”  Alice answers, “I don’t know.” So, the cat responds, “It doesn’t matter!”

Dr. Paul Hersey (founder of The Center for Leadership Studies and the Situational Leadership® Model) used to recount that exchange when he taught the first step of the Situational Leadership® methodology (Identify the task). By its very nature, leadership is all about goal achievement. It is about working through others to achieve goals and deliver targeted results.

As such, it is important for leaders to spend time in active consideration of the goal, task or activity that needs to be accomplished. How many projects over the years have been derailed or scrapped altogether because a leader simply wanted to “get moving” and wound up taking a team in the wrong direction?

Leadership, growth and development initiate with a well-defined objective. Once you invest the time necessary to truly figure out where you need to be going, the path you need to take to get there presents itself with ever-increasing clarity.

“The most inconsistent thing you can possibly do as a leader is to treat everybody the same!”

Two words that get thrown around quite a bit when discussing leadership are “consistency” and “flexibility.”  Is it important for a leader to be consistent? Of course, it is! Good leaders always:

  • Act with integrity (whether anybody is watching or not!)
  • Tell others the truth (their bosses, peer; and those they provide performance feedback to)
  • Learn (They are role models for us all when it comes to developing their skills and understanding what goes on around them.)

On the other hand (and at the core of the value provided by the Situational Leadership® methodology), when it comes time to influence an individual or a team in the performance of a task, good leaders are defined by flexibility. Regardless of what their most comfortable or natural style might be, good leaders:

  • Provide Directive behavior to those that lack experience and confidence
  • Empower those that have mastered a task or activity
  • Participate with those that are somewhere in between novice and expert

To do otherwise would defy common sense! Good leaders examine the particulars of the situation they are attempting to impact, then adapt their approach to align with those particulars.

“Things are either getting better, or they are getting worse, nothing stays the same!”

If the job of a Situational Leader was completed when the individual or team being led achieved a high level of performance on a particular task, the world would be so much easier! But the world doesn’t work that way! Change, on an organizational, job and personal level, ensures that reality:

  • Organizational Change: When things are going well, organizations expand, add people and consider new ventures. When things are going poorly, organizations cut back, become risk averse and move into survival mode. Each of these dynamics (not to mention mergers and acquisitions) can have a significant impact on the ability and willingness of an employee to perform.
  • Job Change: Staying current can be a full-time job in and of itself! Advances in technology or performance protocol can render skill sets obsolete quicker than most of us ever thought possible. Mastery is a moving target!
  • Personal Change: Whoever it was that first said, “You leave your work problems at work and your family problems at home” knew very little about either! Family challenges (finances, divorce, death, health, etc.) can have a tremendous impact on the confidence and commitment of every employee.

The Situational Leader understands and accepts the fact that the world is dynamic and, as such, their job is never done!

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.

As we reflect, we would offer that sometimes soundbites or quotes are an effective way to both understand and appreciate an underlying meaning or purpose. There are many such quotes to describe the journey of the Situational Leader. This article featured four that have withstood the test of time!