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CH05SituationalLeadership.pdf

siTuaTionaL Leadership

Instructions: Look at the following four leadership situations and indicate what the development level is in each situ-ation, which leadership style each response represents, and which leadership style is needed in the situation (i.e., action A, B, C, or D).

Situation 1

Because of budget restrictions imposed on your department, it is necessary to consolidate. You are thinking of asking a highly capable and experienced member of your department to take charge of the consolidation. This person has worked in all areas of your department and has the trust and respect of most of the staff. She is very willing to help with the consolidation.

A. Assign the project to her and let her determine how to accomplish it.

B. Assign the task to her, indicate to her precisely what must be done, and supervise her work closely.

C. Assign the task to her and provide support and encouragement as needed.

D. Assign the task to her and indicate to her precisely what needs to be done but make sure you incorporate her suggestions.

Development level ____________ Action ____________

Situation 2

You have recently been made a department head of the new regional office. In getting to know your departmen-tal staff, you have noticed that one of your inexperienced employees is not following through on assigned tasks. She is enthusiastic about her new job and wants to get ahead in the organization.

A. Discuss the lack of follow-through with her and explore the alternative ways this problem can be solved.

B. Specify what she must do to complete the tasks but incorporate any suggestions she may have.

C. Define the steps necessary for her to complete the assigned tasks and monitor her performance frequently.

D. Let her know about the lack of follow-through and give her more time to improve her performance.

Development level ____________ Action ___________

Situation 3

Because of a new and very important unit project, for the past 3 months you have made sure that your staff members understood their responsibilities and expected level of performance, and you have supervised them closely. Due to some recent project setbacks, your staff has become somewhat discouraged. Their morale has dropped, and so has their performance.

A. Continue to direct and closely supervise their performance.

B. Give the group members more time to overcome the setbacks but occasionally check their progress.

C. Continue to define group activities but involve the group members more in decision making and incorporate their ideas.

D. Participate in their problem-solving activities and encourage and support their efforts to overcome the project setbacks.

Development level ____________ Action ____________

©2010 SAGE Publications. Not for resale, copying or redistribution without permission of the publisher.

Situation 4

As a director of the sales department, you have asked a member of your staff to take charge of a new sales cam-paign. You have worked with this person on other sales campaigns, and you know he has the job knowledge and experience to be successful at new assignments. However, he seems a little unsure about his ability to do the job.

A. Assign the new sales campaign to him and let him function on his own.

B. Set goals and objectives for this new assignment but consider his suggestions and involve him in decision making.

C. Listen to his concerns but assure him he can do the job and support his efforts.

D. Tell him exactly what the new campaign involves and what you expect of him, and supervise his performance closely.

Development level ____________ Action ____________

SOURCE: Adapted from Game Plan for Leadership and the One Minute Manager (Figure 5.20, Learning Activity, p. 5), by K. Blanchard, P. Zigarmi, and D. Zigarmi, 1992, Escondido, CA: Blanchard Training and Development (phone 760-489-5005). Used with permission.

Scoring Interpretation

A short discussion of the correct answers to the Brief Questionnaire will help to explain the nature of situational leadership questionnaires.

Situation 1 in the Brief Questionnaire describes a common problem faced by organizations during downsizing: the need to consolidate. In this particular situation, the leader has identified a person to direct the downsizing project who appears to be highly competent, experienced, and motivated. According to the SLII model, this person is at Developmental Level 4, which calls for a delegative approach. Of the four response alternatives, it is the (A) response, “Assign the project to her and let her determine how to accomplish it,” that best represents delegating (S4): low supportive–low directive leadership.

Situation 2 describes a problem familiar to leaders at all levels in nearly all organizations: lack of follow-through by an enthusiastic employee. In the given example, the employee falls in Developmental Level 1 because she lacks the experience to do the job even though she is highly motivated to succeed. The SLII approach prescribes directing (S1) leadership for this type of employee. She needs to be told when and how to do her specific job. After she is given directions, her performance should be supervised closely. The correct response is (C), “Define the steps necessary to complete the assigned tasks and monitor her performance frequently.”

Situation 3 describes a very different circumstance. In this situation, the employees seem to have developed some experience and an understanding of what is required of them, but they have lost some of their motivation to com-plete the task. Their performance and commitment have stalled because of recent setbacks, even though the leader has been directing them closely. According to SLII, the correct response for the leader is to shift to a more support-ive coaching style (S2) of leadership. The action response that reflects coaching is (C), “Continue to define group activities but involve the group members more in decision making and incorporate their ideas.”

Situation 4 describes some of the concerns that arise for a director attempting to identify the correct person to head a new sales campaign. The person identified for the position obviously has the skills necessary to do a good job with the new sales campaign, but he appears apprehensive about his own abilities. In this context, SLII suggests that the director should use a supportive style (S3), which is consistent with leading employees who are competent but lacking a certain degree of confidence. A supportive style is represented by action response (C), “Listen to his concerns but assure him he can do the job and support his efforts.”

Now select two employees. Diagnose their current development level on three different tasks and your style of leadership in each situation. Is there a match? If not, what specifically can you do for them as a leader to ensure that they have what they need to succeed?

©2010 SAGE Publications. Not for resale, copying or redistribution without permission of the publisher.

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