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Tailored Leadership – Four Situational Leadership Styles

Effective leadership is hard to achieve without influence. While leadership deals with the action required to achieve a predetermined goal, influence deals with the attitude with which that same goal is achieved i.e. Attitude + Action = Effective Leadership.

Leadership: The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

Influence: The capacity to have an effect on someones character and/or behaviour.

Depending on your personality, different leadership styles can be adopted. Some leadership styles will come naturally and others others will require work.

These are the main leadership styles:

  • Persuasive leadership – Mostly used by Politicians.
  • Servant leadership – Mostly used by Religious Leaders.
  •  Assertive leadership – Mostly used in the Military.
  • Combination of the above – Mostly used in Industry.

Modern-day leaders face the great challenge of leading a diverse people. This diversity comes in the from of ethnicity, culture, personality, generational differences i.e. baby boomers, generation X and Y and the millennials. This diverse population has made Situational Leadership the heart of modern-day leadership.


Each person has a different level of maturity. Maturity, in this context, is defined as the level of experience, ability to accept responsibility and the degree of motivation the person has. See Figure 1 below:

For corporate leadership, Hersey and Blanchard provide four leadership approaches that depend on the maturity level:

(i) Telling/Directing Style (S1): Effective when subordinate has a very low level of maturity. This style has a high task focus and low relationship focus.

(ii) Selling/Coaching Style (S2): Effective when subordinate has a low level of maturity. This style has a high task focus and a high relationship focus.

(iii) Participating/Supporting Style (S3): Effective when subordinate has a high level of maturity. This style has a low task focus and a high relationship focus.

(iv) Delegation Style (S4): Effective when subordinate has a very high level of maturity. This style has a low task focus and a low relationship focus.



Situational leadership becomes easier as you move up the corporate ladder due to having a fewer direct reporting subordinates. While it is good for everyone to have, situational leadership is needed mostly by fist level managers and supervisors who have front line employees as subordinates.

Mastering situational leadership will make you highly effective. Ton Wielers (Shell) and Dave Powels (Volkswagen) are some of the leaders who have captured the essence leadership philosophy. I’ve seen them combine situational styles to varying degrees.

Remember, to be a great leader you need to be true to yourself while while being true to the needs of those they lead.

If you’re struggling to find the leadership style or combination styles that best fits your personality –  the ICW team is here to help you bring out the best leader in you through effective coaching.  Our professional coaches and counselors can help you from the comfort of your home/office through video calling sessions.  Alternatively, take our full online course “Leadership and Influence” @


© Institute of Competency and Wellness (ICW), 2017

July 29, 2018

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