Leadership style consists of the behavior pattern of a person who attempts to influence others. It includes both directive behaviors and supportive behaviors. Directive behaviors help group members accomplish goals by giving directions, establishing goals and methods of evaluation, setting timelines, defining roles, and showing how the goals are to be achieved. Directive behaviors clarify, often with one-way communication, what is to be done, how it is to be done, and who is responsible for doing it. Supportive behaviors help group members feel comfortable about themselves, their coworkers, and the situation. Supportive behaviors involve two-way communication and responses that show social and emotional support to others. Examples of supportive behaviors include asking for input, solving problems, praising, sharing information about oneself, and listening. Supportive behaviors are mostly job related. Leadership styles can be classified further into four distinct categories of directive and supportive behaviors (Figure 5.1). The first style (S1) is a high directive–low supportive style, which is also called a directing style. In this approach, the leader focuses communication on goal achievement, and spends a smaller amount of time using supportive behaviors. Using this style, a leader gives instructions about what and how goals are to be achieved by the followers and then supervises them carefully.
The second style (S2) is called a coaching approach and is a high directive–high supportive style. In this approach, the leader focuses communication on both achieving goals and meeting followers’ socioemotional needs. The coaching style requires that the leader involve himself or herself with followers by giving encouragement and soliciting follower input. However, coaching is an extension of S1 in that it still requires that the leader make the final decision on the what and how of goal accomplishment.
The third style (S3) is a supporting approach that requires that the leader take a high supportive–low directive style. In this approach, the leader does not focus exclusively on goals but uses supportive behaviors that bring out followers’ skills around the goal to be accomplished. The supportive style includes listening, praising, asking for input, and giving feedback. A leader using this style gives followers control of day-to-day decisions but remains available to facilitate problem solving. An S3 leader is quick to give recognition and social support to followers.
Figure 5.1 Situational Leadership® II
Source: From Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership® II, by K. Blanchard, P. Zigarmi, and D. Zigarmi, 2013, New York, NY: William Morrow. Used with permission. This model cannot be used without the expressed, written consent of The Ken Blanchard Companies. To learn more, visit www.kenblanchard.com
Last, the fourth style (S4) is called the low supportive–low directive style, or a delegating approach. In this approach, the leader offers less goal input and social support, facilitating followers’ confidence and motivation in reference to the goal. The delegative leader lessens involvement in planning, control of details, and goal clarification. After the group agrees on what it is to do, this style lets followers take responsibility for getting the job done the way they see fit. A leader using S4 gives control to followers and refrains from intervening with unnecessary social support.
The SLII® model (Figure 5.1) illustrates how directive and supportive leadership behaviors combine for each of the four different leadership styles. As shown by the arrows on the bottom and left side of the model, directive behaviors are high in the S1 and S2 quadrants and low in S3 and S4, whereas supportive behaviors are high in S2 and S3 and low in S1 and S4.
A second major part of the SLII® model concerns the development level of followers. Development level is the degree to which followers have the competence and commitment necessary to accomplish a given goal or activity (Blanchard et al., 2013). Stated another way, it indicates whether a person has mastered the skills to achieve a specific goal and whether a person has developed a positive attitude regarding the goal (Blanchard et al., 1993). In earlier versions of the model, this was referred to as the readiness or maturity of the follower (Bass, 2008; Hersey & Blanchard, 1969a, 1969b, 1977, 1996).
Followers are at a high development level if they are interested and confident in their work and know how to achieve the goal. Followers are at a developing level if they have little skill for the goal at hand but believe that they have the motivation or confidence to get the job done.
The levels of development are illustrated in the lower portion of the diagram in. The levels describe various combinations of commitment and competence for followers on a given goal. They are intended to be goal specific and are not intended to be used for the purpose of labeling followers.
On a particular goal, followers can be classified into four categories: D1, D2, D3, and D4, from developing to developed. Specifically, D1 followers are low in competence and high in commitment. They are new to a goal and do not know exactly how to do it, but they are excited about the challenge of it. D2 followers are described as having some competence but low commitment. They have started to learn a job, but they also have lost some of their initial motivation about the job. D3 represents followers who have moderate to high competence but may have variable commitment. They have essentially developed the skills for the job, but they are uncertain as to whether they can accomplish the goal by themselves. Finally, D4 followers are the highest in development, having both a high degree of competence and a high degree of commitment to getting the job done. They have the skills to do the job and the motivation to get it done.