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Critique of the situational leadership model by hersey and blanchard

Technical Details Name s: The theory has simple scales that a leader can use to give a "thumb in the wind" assessment of what leadership style to use. Maturity and competence of the group are often overlooked factors in good leadership and it helps to focus on these.

Con's The theory may not be applicable to managers as administrators or those with limited power but in structurally in a leadership position. There are situations in which the theory may be less applicable such as those involving time constraints and task complexity.

Situational Leadership Pro & Cons

Testing of the theory doesn't seem to bear out the predictions [1]. Overview Situational Leadership Theory is really the short form for "Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory" and draws major views from contingency thinking. As the name implies, leadership depends upon each individual situation, and no single leadership style can be considered the best. For Hershey and Blanchard, tasks are different and each type of task requires a different leadership style.

  1. Perhaps it is just me, but I would think that not only with its notoriety, but along with its use by 400 of the Fortune 500 companies in leadership development, as well as the backing of such individuals as Hersey and Blanchard, that a few of these criticisms would seem unfounded. However, it does seem that there are a few of the criticisms of situational leadership that are somewhat contradictory to its known strengths.
  2. In other words, a manager may assume an emotionally mature worker is likewise adept at taking responsibility for specific job duties, which may not be the case. In essence, the Vecchio findings suggest that in terms of situational leadership, it is appropriate to match a highly structured S1 style of leadership with immature subordinates, but it is not clear incomplete research whether it is appropriate to match S2, S3, or S4, respectively, with more mature subordinates.
  3. Each case needs to be evaluated on its own merits and people need to be aware of the limitations.
  4. As an indication of this, Goodson et al state, "Unfortunately, no absolute standard of readiness or maturity exists.

A good leader will be able to adapt her or his leadership to the goals or objectives to be accomplished. Goal setting, capacity to assume responsibility, education, and experience are main factors that make a leader successful. Not only is the leadership style important for a successful leader-led situation but the ability or maturity of those being led is a critical factor, as well.

Leadership techniques fall out of the leader pairing her or his leadership style to the maturity level of the group.

Technical Details

To Hersey and Blanchard, there leadership styles stem from four basic behaviors, designated with a letter-number combination: The leadership style, itself, manifests itself as behavior related to the task and behavior as to relationship with the group. Do this task in this manner because of [whatever] at this location, and get it finished by [whenever]. Transactional leadership techniques operate here. In the "selling" behavior, the leader attempts to convince the group of that the leader should lead by providing social and emotional support to the individual being convinced.

There is two-way communication, but it is clear that the leader is leading. With "participating" behavior, the leader shares decision making with the group, making the system more democratic.

There is less of an emphasis on accomplishing an objective than building human relations. The fourth type of behavior in leadership style, "delegating" is reflected by parceling out tasks to group members. The leader still is in charge but there is more of an emphasis on monitoring the ones delegated with the tasks. Four maturity levels of the group are posited by Hersey and Blanchard with letter designations: Each type of task may involve a different maturity level, so a person with an overall maturity level of M-3 might be only an M-1 with respect to specific work.

According to Hersey, ability level and willingness to do work can be cultivated by a good leader by raising the level of expectations.

Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory

Blanchard overlays four permutations of competency-commitment, again, with a letter designation: If managers are seen merely as those executing a leader's directives and with little authority an administratorperhaps not. On the other hand, the theory may be relevant.

Each case needs to be evaluated on its own merits and people need to be aware of the limitations. If the theory is only about getting those following to do work based on competence and willingness, then, there may be some omissions, such as situations in which neither may be relevant. Wartime, emergency situations, survival-type scenarios may need a leader, and that leader may have to do more than simply look at the willingness and competence.

If the group already has an agenda, what the leader says or does may be less relevant. This is true when the leader may not have the support of the group or have deficiencies the group has identified, making the leader less powerful to effect change.

There may not be a way of assessing accurately competence or maturity of a group, especially is there is a time limitation. As an indication of this, Goodson et al state, "Unfortunately, no absolute standard of readiness or maturity exists. Therefore, standardization is needed in order to clarify which subordinate populations should be considered 'ready' and which should not.

There always, too, is the misjudgment of the leader, especially when there is urgency or task complexity involved. Another issue is context and dynamism.

Situational Leadership: An Ironic Thought

Willingness to do a task may change, and an initial judgment may be erroneous later. The scales are subjective, and context free. Future of theory Testing of the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory could be accomplished by quantifying the scales.

Situational leadership theory

In any event, in light of what has been done so far with poor test results, more work is needed to show the proof that the theory works. While the suggestion sounds futuristic, the attitudinal factors, as well as competence might be measured and validated using cognitive neuroscience techniques, as suggested in other articles on this website.

Want to expand on the discussion? We encourage you to expand on the discussion, add to the critique or even share your vision with regards to the future applications of the theory.