The fundamental underpinning of the Situational Leadership Theory is there is no single "best" style of leadership, It is like giving everyone according to their particular needs. "there is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals". Effective leadership is task-relevant and that the most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the Maturity of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Treating unequal as equal is the great inequality that a leader may commit the level of maturity or the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task is not all equal. So an effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influence, but it will also depend on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished.
Prescription: we need to learn how to diagnose the needs of the people you work for us
The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory rests on two fundamental concepts; Leadership Style and the individual or group's Maturity level.
Hersey and Blanchard characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of Task Behavior and Relationship Behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types, which they named S1 to S4:
• S1: Telling - For people who lack competence but are enthusiastic and committed. They need direction and supervision to get them started. This is one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, when, and where to do the task. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, it is a directing type of leadership or somehow called dictatorship style.
• S2: Selling - For people who have competence in themselves but lacking commitment. Direction and supervision is needed because they are still relatively inexperienced or unwilling to do the task. They need support and praise to build their self-esteem, and need to be involve in decision-making to bring out their commitment. The leader here is providing the direction and using two-way communication by providing the socio-emotional support that will allow the individual or group being influenced to acquire into the process. This is a high task focus, & high relationship focus - The leaders here still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and suggestions from the group member. Most of the times decisions remain the leader's prerogative, Its like a leader giving a lessons or instruction merely I say its like coaching, but communication here is two-way.
• S3: Participating - For people who have competence, but lack confidence or motivation. They do not need much direction because of their skills, but support is necessary to bolster their confidence and motivation. This is now shared decision making about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing less task behaviors while maintaining high relationship behavior. This is Low task focus vice versa high relationship focus - leaders pass all decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader role here is sustaining and or supporting by facilitating and taking part in decisions, but total control is in the hand of the follower.
• S4: Delegating - For people who have both competence and commitment. They are able and willing to work in an entrusted work or project by themselves with little supervision or support. Leader here is still involved in decisions but, the process and responsibility has been entrusted and passed in individual or group. Leaders here involved just to monitor the progress of given project or task. It is Low task focus, low relationship focus - leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.
Of these, Leadership style none is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation.