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Leadership: Situational Approach

“Leadership: Situational Approach” focused on exploring situational approaches towards leadership that is expressed through the behavior of the leader and his or her followers, as well as their relationships in different situations. Examining the nature of situational leadership is important because one form of leadership cannot be effectively applied to all individuals in all situations. Therefore, it is crucial to take into account the type of organization, in which the leader operates, the usual behavior of the followers, as well as the characteristics of a specific case that needs resolving. As mentioned in the chapter, there is no ‘right’ way to lead people towards achieving a set goal because different individuals are associated with different variables that should not be overlooked or disregarded.

In the chapter, the author mentioned Tannenbaum-Schmidt Continuum of Leader Behavior (1957), which can be considered one of the most significant situational approaches towards exploring leadership. The Tannenbaum-Schmidt model implies choosing one out of seven leadership behaviors based on the situation, the characteristics of the leader, and the abilities of his or her followers. According to the visual aid related to this model, a leader can choose from a range of behaviors that vary from democratic (relationship-oriented) to authoritarian (task-oriented) behaviors. If for example, a leader chooses authoritarian behavior, he or she is much more likely to be oriented towards accomplishing a specific task and might use the power to influence followers. The democratic leadership behavior, on the other hand, implies giving more freedom to the followers and building strong relationships between them and the leader. The choice of which model of behavior should be applied depends on the situation.

The authors also explored other approaches to choosing an appropriate style of leadership. Fiedler’s Contingency Model suggested that three variables determine whether a situation is favorable to a leader: leader-group relationships, task structure, and position power. House-Mitchell Path-Goal Theory combined the findings of the Ohio State Leadership Studies and the Expectancy Model of Motivation, suggesting that a leader can motivate his or her followers by supplying them with what is missing from a situation, thus increasing personal payoffs to followers. Hersey-Blanchard Tridimensional Leader Effectiveness Model presented four different leadership styles that occur in the attempt to influence the activities of others. In this model, a leader’s style is a combination of task and relationship behaviors. While task behavior is how a leader organizes group activities for reaching a set goal, relationship behavior is how a leader engages the followers into a conversation and promotes the importance of strengthening bonds between them.

The chapter mentioned the effectiveness dimension, instrumentation (the LEAD self and the LEAD others), consistency, and the difference of attitude from behavior that are all crucial elements of effective situational leadership. For example, consistency is not about leading in the same manner. It refers to using that leadership style, which is the most appropriate in a given situation. Differentiating between attitude and behavior is also important because the two concepts are often equated. While attitude shows the leader’s opinion about a situation, it does not express what actions will be taken. Behavior, on the other hand, is associated with actions the leader implements for resolving a problem or reaching a set goal.