Situational leadership

  • Directing
  • Coaching
  • Supporting
  • Delegating

Another useful leadership theory, generally identified as the situational leadership model, was first put forweard by Hersey and Blanchard (1982). The situational leadership model is still in common use today. Although most readily applicable to leadership in a corporate context, the model is also well suited to the outdoor situation when the members of the group are mostly at a similar level of development. It provides useful guidance on how a leader ought to behave depending on the maturity of the group and the circumstances surrounding the task. Successful application of the theory demands that the leader have understanding, flexibility, patience and a high level of empathy with the members of the group.

This theory is built around a four-stage process of development based upon the competence of the group members to perform the tasks at hand, and their level of commitment to those tasks. The competence to perform the tasks can generally be taught. The commitment cannot be taught but can be stimulated and supported with careful management by the leader.

Some leadership actions appropriate to the four styles are detailed in Figure 48.1 and typical needs of group members are described in Table 48.1.