Situational Leadership Model
For Project Management

The Situational Leadership Model developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey is one of the most practical leadership theories for project managers.

As a project manager, you'll find that you usually have little to no direct authority over the members of your project team. As a result, your ability to influence will become a major determinant of your success.

The Situational Leadership Model provides you with a framework that you can use to determine what type of leadership style would be most effective based on your followers ability and willingness to perform the desired task.

The basic premise of Situational Leadership Theory is that there is no one "best" way to lead a team. In other words, the leadership style you should use should be adjusted based on the situation. More specifically, it is dependent on the "maturity" of the specific follower you are trying to influence.

Follower Maturity Levels

Follower maturity is divided into four levels ranging from low maturity to high maturity.

Situational Leadership Theory - Follower Maturity Levels Situational Leadership Theory
Follower Maturity Levels

Maturity can also be thought of as a followers readiness to be led. It is based on their ability to perform the task and their willingness to perform the task.

Maturity
Level
Description
M1
Low
The group or individual is not able and not willing to do the given task.
M2
Low to Moderate
The group or individual is not able but willing to do the given task.
M3
Moderate to High
The group or individual is able but not willing to do the given task.
M4
High
The group or individual is able and willing to do the given task.

Situational Leadership Styles

The type of situational leadership style you use will be based on your followers maturity level. Each leadership style is a combination of "task behavior" and "relationship behavior."

Task behavior refers to the amount of direction a leader provides to his followers. For example, telling them what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and where to do it.

Relationship behavior refers to the amount of two-way communication the leader uses with his followers. This includes active listening and providing supportive and facilitating behaviors.

Situational Leadership Model Situational Leadership Model

The model defines four leadership styles. The style you use is based on your follower's maturity level as shown in the following table...

Follower
Maturity
Leadership
Style
Leadership
Behavior
Guidance
M1 S1
Telling
High Task
&
Low Relationship
Followers are both unable and unwilling to perform a task.

As the Project Manager, you will need to provide clear directions and supervision. Making sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined as well as explicitly telling your followers what, how, when and where to perform specific tasks will help you be successful with Low Maturity followers. Supportive behavior should be minimal as it can make you seem too easy and rewarding of poor performance.
M2 S2
Selling
High Task
&
High Relationship
Followers are unable but willing to perform a task.

As the Project Manager, you will need to provide direction since their ability is low. Additionally, you will want to reinforce their willingness and enthusiasm by providing supportive behavior. For example, explaining why the task is important and needs to be done.
M3 S3
Participating
Low Task
&
High Relationship
Followers are able to perform a task but lack the self confidence or enthusiasm to do so.

As the Project Manager, your supportive behavior should be high. Facilitating actions such as active listening and sharing in decision-making should be emphasized.
M4 S4
Delegating
Low Task
&
Low Relationship
Followers are able to perform a task and are motivated to do so.

As the Project Manager, little direction or support is needed. Followers are very self-directed at this level and are able to make their own decisions. Because of their high level of motivation, they also do not need a lot of supportive behavior. In larger projects, individuals at this level of maturity are often sub-project leads or team leads.

In Conclusion...

The key to using the Situational Leadership Model successfully is understanding the maturity level of your team and it's members. Once that is understood, the model provides the guidance to determine the appropriate leadership style you should use.



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