Situational leadership ascribes to the suggestion that different situations need different leadership approaches. The situational leadership theory states that this leadership style is dependent on understanding the prevailing situation or the task at hand. As such, successful leaders are those who understand and adjust accordingly to the level of ability and willingness of their followers (Stenmark, 2011). This leadership style has proved to be very vital in guiding understanding and improving my leadership skills. Its best applicable in situations where followers are not very specialized to their duties or when a higher level guidance needs to be passed on to followers (Allio, 2013). This leadership style came in handy during my time serving in the army a place where orders and directives are supposed to be obeyed without question.
Some scholars have worked on the theory, and their results have supported the fundamentals of the theory. In 2007, from a sample of air traffic control officers, Arvidsson and associates researched how leadership styles and adaptableness vary across various situations, conditions and, tasks in the air traffic control arena (McCleskey, 2014). Results of the survey revealed that task oriented leadership, i.e. directing, coaching, supporting and delegating proved to be suitable in certain specific situations especially where followers are not very skilled (Arvidsson et al., 2007). Another survey was done by Vinberg and Larsson in 2010 to discuss the implications of situational aspects of successful leadership. In the research, general leadership behaviors from different successful companies were identified and analyzed under different situations to check their relationship with the situational leadership theory. The research concluded that successful leadership involved an understanding of task oriented elements and the consistency elements.
Situational leadership style mainly focuses on two things, the task at hand and the relationship between the leaders and their followers. This leadership style encourages leaders to be supportive of their subordinate, listen to them and help them whenever possible (Peus, Braun & Frey, 2013). Despite its seeming strengths, there are researches which have revealed flaws in situational leadership. They include a research done by R.P Vecchio in 1987 which disagreed with the theorys view of matching different situations with mature subordinates. Other scholars such as Nicholas (1985) and Bass (2008) stated that the situational leadership theory had three weaknesses in the line of consistency, conformity, and continuity. Though this leadership style could have flaws under certain situations, one area of application where it fits, is in situations which require a lot of feedback and support such as the nursing profession (Chamberlain, 2013). While working in the military, this leadership style enabled me to employ different approaches depending on the situation. I had to employ a delicate balance between military and civilian mentality to understand different situations.
The core of situational leadership is the match between leadership style to the capability and commitment of ones subordinates. Successful leaders are those who are capable of understanding needs of their followers and customize their leadership style to match the needs (Northouse 2016). With the increasing diversification of the workforce coupled with technological improvement, its true to say that there is a need for more research on the situational leadership style. However judging by my experience on situational leadership, I believe, out of its malleability and adaptability, it offers one of the best theories of leadership.
Allio, R. J. (2013). Leaders and leadershipmany theories, but what advice is reliable? Strategy & Leadership, 41(1), 414. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Arvidsson, M., Johansson, C., Ek, A, & Akselsson, R. (2007). Situational leadership in air traffic control.' Journal of Air Transportation, 12(1): 67-86.
Chamberlin, J. (2013). Situationally speaking. Management Services, 57(2), 4247. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
McCleskey, A. (2014). Situational, Transformational, and Transactional Leadership and Leadership Development Journal of Business Studies Quarterly 5 (4): 117-126.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications.
Peus, C., Braun, S., & Frey, D. (2013). Situation-based measurement of the full range of leadership modeldevelopment and validation of a situational judgment test. The Leadership Quarterly, 24(5), 777795. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Vecchio, R. (1987). "Situational Leadership Theory: An examination of a prescriptive theory." Journal of Applied Psychology. 72 (3): 444.
Stenmark, C. K., & Mumford, M. D. (2011). Situational impacts on leader ethical decision-making. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(5), 94255. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
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