The Center for Leadership Studies is recognized on the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies List! It was longer ago than I care to admit but, at the same time, it’s something I remember like it was yesterday. The Situational Leadership® Model is arguably the most recognized, utilized and effective leadership and influence tool in the history of the behavioral sciences. Situational Leadership®, which stresses flexibility and simplicity in execution, can equip leaders in your organization with the tools necessary to skillfully navigate the demands of an increasingly diverse workforce and evolving global marketplace.
It’s the kind of line that, no matter how hard you may have tried, you can’t get it out of your head. In doing what wound up being “unintentional research” for this blog, we ran that little exercise with several people at work. So, in full acknowledgement of the “cheesy” segue, we would like to transition from the world of cinematography to the world of leadership development and take a stab at answering “Bob’s” question. Understanding: Leaders need to be able to articulate the gap between “what is” and “what is needed or desired” in a manner that is both clear and actionable.
Development: When an individual or group is learning something for the first time, confidence is usually the most important element of willingness that needs to be monitored.
Regression: With regression, motivation is frequently the component of willingness that is most in play. Usually, learners identify that 50% or more of their influence attempts are lateral or up in the organization (sometimes those percentages are far greater than 50%). Application Challenge:Do you think you know what it is your leaders “do here?” Click on the link below to be guided through the competency model and leadership curriculum and identify your organization’s most pressing leadership skill gaps.
Only over a period of time, by receiving the appropriate leadership styles, do employees reach the levels of confidence and competence that enable them to increase their productivity and effectiveness on given goals and tasks. Today's best leaders provide an environment where people can stretch, learn, and share their talents. Depending on the direct reports' levels of competence and commitment you'll find that they will fall into one of four stages of development with that particular goal or task. For a long time, people thought there were only two leadership styles??autocratic and democratic. We believe that managers who restrict themselves to either extreme are bound to be ineffective ?°half managers.?± Whole managers are flexible and able to adapt their leadership style to the situation.
To bring out the best in others, leadership must match the development level of the person being led. Partnering opens up communication between you and your direct reports and increases the quality and frequency of your conversations.
For example, suppose that you diagnosed one of your people on a particular task as a Self-Reliant Achiever.
Suppose another one of your people is new and you decide that person needs, at a minimum, a coaching style. In both cases, you might have made the right diagnosis, but since your people didn't understand your rationale, they misinterpreted your intentions.
The leader might say, ?°How would it be if I set a goal that I believe will stretch you but is attainable, and then develop an action plan for you that will enable you to reach that goal? On the other hand, suppose a direct report is a Self-Reliant Achiever on a particular goal and, therefore, can handle a delegating leadership style. If the direct report says yes, he or she can take action until his or her performance or communication suggests differently.


With better leadership, people become more skillful, adaptable, and open to new challenges and change. At one of the world's largest banking institutions, earnings were up across the board, employee turnover was down, and the bank was ranked first among major U.S. At one of the largest privately owned, family-run specialty coffee and tea retailers in the world, impact studies show improved store sales, improved retention, dramatically improved working relationships, and cost savings of $500,000. Through effective leadership, successful organizations are showing that they can increase overall productivity, positively influence other key metrics, and directly impact the bottom line.
Leaders looking to improve their effectiveness with their direct reports should evaluate the way they diagnose development level, adjust their leadership style, and reach agreements with direct reports about using these leadership styles in day-to-day management situations. Paul Hersey in the late 1960s, the Situational Leadership® Model is a powerful, yet flexible tool that enables leaders of all kinds; managers, salespeople, peer leaders, teachers or parents to more effectively influence others.
Infinitely adaptable to any circumstance, the model prepares leaders to address the most pressing challenges pervasive in today’s work environment. People who work for a company that provides leadership training for a living would naturally identify (at some level) with a quote that gets to the heart of organizational behavior. Hersey first addressed the “what do leaders do” question by identifying three core, common and critical leadership competencies (Diagnosing, Adapting and Communicating). There are multiple variables to consider and a variety of different contingencies to proactively take into account.
We respond with the best of intentions and implement an approach that “feels right” on the basis of our own personal value programming.
The more a follower sees himself or herself “having what it takes” to effectively perform a particular task, the more insecurity gives way to confidence and motivation.
In its most typical form, a follower has mastered a task and has lost a certain amount of enthusiasm or dedication to continue to perform it.
Ultimately, leaders bear responsibility for “managing that movement” by acting as catalysts for development and collaborative impediments for regression. For us, this is ongoing confirmation that leadership is most accurately defined as “an attempt to influence” and that influence is multi-directional.
Without the proper leadership styles, most employees end up achieving only a moderate level of performance on key tasks instead of pushing through to the highest level possible. Great leaders focus on efficiently and effectively helping to transform beginners and learners into peak performers. Competence can be gained through formal education, on-the-job training, and experience, and it can be developed over time with appropriate direction and support. In fact, people used to shout at each other from these two extremes, insisting that one style was better than the other. Is the direct report new and inexperienced about the task at hand??a D1 Enthusiastic Beginner? As your direct reports move from one development level to the next, your style should change accordingly. This skill is about gaining your direct reports' permission to use the leadership style that is a match for their development level. Then, I'd like to meet with you on a regular basis to discuss your progress and provide any help you need as you get started. If, in either of the two examples??the Enthusiastic Beginner or the Self-Reliant Achiever??the direct report doesn't agree, what should happen? Without appropriate leadership, the development levels of employees can stagnate or even regress.


All people have peak performance potential??you just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.
You have invested about eight seconds in the review of this blog – and we’re betting you have that quote, and maybe several others, firmly implanted in the forefront of your consciousness. For us, it’s a funny thing (as we believe the enclosed clip demonstrates) and it’s a serious thing, all at the same time.
In the process of re-validating this competency framework in October of 2011, CLS identified a fourth competency: Advancing. The way we see it, Emotional Intelligence and Business Acumen are the key building blocks for diagnostic skills. The language the leader uses is critical as the same words can mean different things to different people.
We would suggest those conversations could be categorized as both frustrating and time-consuming. In that regard, it is not a question of the follower asking himself or herself the question, “Can I do this?” but, conversely, asking the question (one way or another), “Is there something else I can do?” When leaders see regression, they need to intervene in a timely manner.
These three subsets of leaders, in combination with our four primary leadership competencies, have helped us identify 33 prioritized leadership skills.
The challenge then is for organizations to develop their employees to reach higher levels as quickly and efficiently as possible, thus improving productivity and overall corporate performance.
Democratic managers were accused of being too soft and easy, while their autocratic counterparts were often called too tough and domineering.
Yet, we found that problems developed because the people who managers were applying the model to didn't understand what the managers were doing and often misinterpreted their intentions. Second, getting permission ensures the direct report's buy in on the use of that style and increases his or her commitment.
Since people's development levels can migrate anywhere from beginner to peak performer depending on the task at hand, the ability to utilize the appropriate leadership style is critical to maximizing productivity, morale, and long-term results. The absolute, most inconsistent thing you can do as a leader is to treat every person, and every situation, the same. Beyond language, the tone, delivery and all-around effect of leader-initiated communication needs to be considered and customized based on the individual or group receiving the message.
Communication is much more about “what followers hear” than it is about “what leaders say.” Effective leaders build credibility day in and day out with those they attempt to influence. If done quickly enough, that intervention typically takes the form of a candid discussion focused on performance slippage with a high probability of effective resolution.
For example, if a direct report is an Enthusiastic Beginner who does not have much in the way of task knowledge and skill but is excited about taking on the task, this person obviously needs a directing leadership style. Unless I hear from you, or the information I receive tells me otherwise, I'll assume everything is fine.
That credibility translates to buy-in and buy-in translates into vision being placed into action. Beyond that, should anyone ever ask us: “What would you say … you do here?” We’ll be ready!



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