Situational Leadership & Goals Alignment in Project Management (*Updated 2023 Guide)

Situational Leadership and best macro management practices

A leader might employ a variety of leadership approaches to be more productive at work. You may have met a leader or manager who explains things to you, helps you, and progresses you during your PM profession. This management style might well have improved your productivity and professional advancement when you lacked experience. 

Different skill levels need different management strategies. Different settings or tasks may have the same impact. A manager can assign project management to a high-performing employee. In contrast, a high-profile project or a crisis may need the presence of a manager. 

If you are new to leadership, leadership challenges could have an impact on project goals. 

As one of the four basic roles of management, leadership is an essential component of any manager’s work. Finding fresh techniques and approaches to solving the most challenging leadership issues is critical to effective leadership. 

One of these approaches is situational leadership, in which a leader adapts their leadership style to best suit a certain environment or position. 

In this post, we will explore the concept of situational leadership, how leaders can employ it, and the advantages and disadvantages of this leadership style. 

What is Situational Leadership?

visionary leadership

Situational leadership is a leadership style in which a leader responds to the current work environment and/or team expectations. This leadership style is centered on a leader’s ability to adapt to the demands of a team or organization to be a better and more effective leader, rather than on a leader’s abilities. 

Any competent leader recognizes that there are several factors to consider while working with a team. Everyone has their Background, Personality, and Mode of instruction. 

Situational leadership is characterized by how a leader modifies the team style in response to various circumstances. A recent poll found that situational leadership has a positive impact on work satisfaction and staff performance by 50.9%. 

While working on the book Management of Organizational Behavior, Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey developed this leadership style, commonly known as the Situational Leadership Model. According to this, Depending on the circumstances, a situational leader may employ one of the following leadership behavioral styles. 

Four Styles of Situation Leadership

leadership as a project management skills

1 – Telling

A leader’s primary role is to lead and make decisions. The instructions you give to your coworkers must be clear and easy for you to succeed while also motivating and inspiring our team. 

The leader must ensure that their team members understand their roles from the beginning. Only then will they be able to take little steps and achieve success after success, sustaining and preserving the motivation of the group. 

When to Use It? 

This strategy can be used when a team requires constant monitoring and teaching. . The telling approach is most commonly used when recurring results are expected or when a team is at the beginner level. 

2 – Selling

At level 2, the leader constantly supervises and offers feedback to the team. During this stage, the leader also enlists information from coworkers to gain feedback, improvements, and new ideas that may benefit the project. 

The final decision is made by the leader, but by asking those questions, he incorporates the entire team and encourages them to think and decide. 

When to Use It? 

This type of leadership is frequently used when a team or person is unmotivated to accomplish a task or work assignment. 

3 – Engaging  

Leaders must empower and motivate their employees. This is the only way to ensure that they give their utmost since they have been guided and driven toward the same objective. 

When this level is reached, leadership allows the team to debate and exchange ideas as well as different points of view, which improves the joint effort. 

When to Use It? 

The interactive behavior management style is most commonly used when a team is skilled in some tasks but lacks the motivation or confidence to complete them. 

4 – Delegation  

Leaders must want and understand how to delegate tasks to their staff. Employees at this level of situational leadership are mature; they understand how to act, what their role is, and what is required of them since their leader has clearly stated everything. 

As a consequence, the leader can delegate work while simultaneously recognizing colleagues’ approaches to completing work and making decisions. 

When to Use It?

The delegating leadership style is employed when a team is efficient and effective at its task and requires no guidance. 

There is no single leadership style that is considered to be the best. A situational leader, on the other hand, will use whatever style is most suited to the moment. 

Is Situational Leadership Effective?

Managers who employ situational leadership may be better able to adapt to their work environments and the people they manage. The ability to modify your management style is a key skill for any aspiring leader. 

The situational leadership paradigm considers staff capability and commitment. This might vary according to the work and performance area. It also includes the task’s complexity as well as the quantity of advice and support required from the leader. 

This versatility allows leaders to respond to every situation with a leadership style that empowers and inspires their team. 

Apple’s extraordinary success can be traced to the influence of its most famous CEO, Steve Jobs. While most people associate Jobs with demanding, powerful leadership, his method was more complex than many think.  

Steve Jobs’ well-known product launches were more than simply a way to get buyers excited about new things. The launches also allowed Jobs to sell his vision to employees. Jobs had a unique way of motivating individuals to pursue controversial ideas within the firm, despite the enormous success they would ultimately attain. 

Let’s look at more characteristics of a Situational Leader. 

Characteristics of Situational Leaders

Soft skills for leadership

A leader’s “area of expertise” or inherent preference for one management style over another can exist. This could make mastering the entire set of skills required to be a successful situational leader difficult. 

Leaders must, however, go even further in this direction. To get the best results, different leadership styles are necessary for different circumstances. 

 We need diverse leadership styles to deal with the problems of today’s changing work environment, same as we need a range of tools to construct a house. Developing these abilities typically necessitates a concerted effort. 

Having said that, the best situational leaders have a few distinctive characteristics. A strong leader should practice the situational leadership abilities mentioned below: 

1. Agility 

A situational leader is intensely aware of the team’s, tasks and the organization’s changing needs. They adapt their leadership style to bring out the best in team members and ensure success. 

2. A Good listener 

To understand what is going on and address the needs of their team, a situational leader must employ active listening abilities. They must be patient and spend the required time getting to know and understand their team. 

3. A strong sense of direction 

Situational leaders must be able to provide the support and direction that team members demand. They need to know where the team needs to go and what the best next move is to get there. 

4. The ability to persuade others 

Situational leaders engage in psychologically safe practices. They allow team members to share their thoughts, experiences, and suggestions.  

5. Coaching skills 

To be most effective, situational leaders must increase their ability to teach at several developmental stages. This skill allows them to meet team members where they are and assist them in getting to where they need to go. 

Advantages of Situational Leadership

Situational leadership broadens your arsenal by allowing you to try out four distinct leadership approaches. And having more tools or strategies usually equates to more efficacy and success as a leader. 

When a leader is forced to take a step back and assess what the staff needs, they must employ emotional intelligence as a leader (EQ). Consider EQ to be a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.  

Adopting a framework that encourages you to assess people’s talents, personalities, and even emotional states will help you become more adept at doing so and responding appropriately. 

This method also has the benefit of self-correcting and self-reinforcing. In other words, after you are familiar enough with each style to properly apply it, you will receive very clear feedback on whether you have picked the correct one. When you accomplish this, your employees often respond positively; they are satisfied and empowered. If you do not, you will see signs in your job and the emotions of your employees. From there, you can change your strategy. 

Furthermore, Situational leadership is more than just a management improvement strategy. The framework also helps your team members improve their performance and self-esteem. 

Employees will feel more at ease in a situational leadership setting since the leadership style typically corresponds to their demands. 

This form of leadership takes into account the varied degrees of growth of employees and aids in satisfying each employee’s skill level and needs. 

Criticism/ Gaps of Situational Leadership

calarity in leadership - coronavirus

1 – Your team may perceive you as indecisive

Situational leadership is just that: situational. That is, you deliberately manage one employee differently than others. You could even handle that specific team member differently on other projects, and your relationships with the bulk of team members will alter over time. 

 If you do not manage this fact appropriately, your team may perceive you as unreliable or unstable. 

2 – Might Not Work On Large Teams

Situational leadership is highly customized to each activity and individual. The more tasks or persons you handle, the more customization (read: time and attention) is required to make the system work. 

Moreover, Situational leadership focuses only on short-term goals and, as a result, may overlook long-term goals. 

3 – May Burdines Your Performance  

Situational leadership also puts you under strain as a leader: It is your responsibility to choose the ideal leadership style for each work or project and making that selection might be tough. Previously, your workers’ success appeared to be the focus; today, it appears to be yours. 

Since situational leadership is flexible, while many task-driven situations are not, it typically fails to operate well when recurring tasks must be completed. 

How to Improve Situational Leadership? 

Managers who want to improve their situational awareness may consider the following suggestions: 

1 – Maintain Emotional Balance

A manager’s reactions to employees must be adapted to changing circumstances. This includes avoiding rash decisions while they are stressed or excited. 

 Depending on the situation, managing emotions can help you communicate with employees more successfully. 

2 – Communication is the Key

Communication is critical for establishing trust and meeting milestones.  

Nothing can be missed when staff is instructed clearly. It makes it easier to alter as required. Developing coaching abilities as a manager may aid in communicating and getting the message through. 

3 – Recognize the Team

When a manager is unfamiliar with the team, it is difficult to be a situational leader. Understanding each person’s fundamental abilities, goals, and flaws is critical.  

To manage effectively, managers must understand each employee’s skill set and motivation. Knowing the team allows the manager to create development plans that are tailored to each individual and help in long-term career advancement. 

4 – Be a Problem-Solver

Problem resolution is another crucial part of situational skills. Leaders will need to fix new issues and resolve team arguments as things change, and outcomes will need to be more flexible. 

Given the adaptability and flexibility of remote and hybrid work arrangements, situational leadership might be a successful strategy, especially if leaders focus on enhancing their skill sets and engaging their staff in shared goals. 

Can you think of any examples of situational leadership in your career? Do share your views with us.



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