Situational Approaches to Leadership in Examples

Effective leadership is one of the influential factors affecting the performance of employees as well as the entire organization. Various approaches to leadership have been developed throughout decades, and transformational leadership is often regarded as the most efficient paradigm (Khan, Nawaz, & Khan, 2016). In recent years, situational leadership is gaining momentum as it is associated with flexibility that has a positive impact on motivation, performance, and morale. This paper includes a brief description of the use of situational leadership based on the cases of several employees who are characterized by a different level of expertise, working experience, and morale.

The situational approach to leadership is associated with a focus on diverse situations and adaptation. The leader assesses the situation and chooses the style accordingly (Cote, 2017). The use of training and development is also central to this framework. Situational leadership consists of the directive and supportive dimensions, which ensures the development of the relationships between leaders and followers based on the needs of the stakeholders (Thompson & Glasø, 2015). In simple terms, the leader provides directions and guidance, defines goals and ways to achieve them, describes roles and responsibilities. At the same time, the leader encourages followers to be more active and establishes rapport through effective two-way communication. The leader is also involved in problem-solving and conflict management.

When choosing the most effective behavioral pattern with the employees, the leader can apply the leader-member exchange (LMX) and path-goal theories. These frameworks are instrumental in assessing the employees’ levels of competence, morale, as well as needs. The LMX theory implies that the relationships between the leader and followers can be divided into three phases: stranger, acquaintance, and partnership (Cote, 2017).

According to this framework, Amani can be a partner, so an effective leader will try to receive feedback from the employee regarding the reasons for his behavior and attitude. It is important to be open and supportive, praising Amani’s previous input and his potential. It can be necessary to negotiate responsibilities and goals as well as choose the methods to attain them. It is also necessary to appeal to the groups’ needs and strengths to make Amani more motivated.

Bassman is likely to be in the second phase, so a different behavioral model should be utilized. It is necessary to be supportive and focus on Bassmah’s previous input. The employee may need some mentorship regarding the use of the new software. The leader can encourage the employee to go the extra mile by appealing to the group’s needs and accomplishments. Hadeel and Rawan are also in the acquaintance phase, so it is appropriate to appeal to organizational values and the employees’ previous effective work. The leader should try to assist the employees in resolving their conflicts by open informal and formal communication. Samah is still in the phase of a stranger, so the leader needs to be supportive and but directive. It is necessary to describe Samah’s responsibilities and roles, as well as establish goals and methods to achieve them. When communicating and motivating the employee, the leader can focus on Samah’s potential benefits and potential growth within the organization.

As mentioned above, it is also possible to use the path-goal theory. This framework is instrumental in choosing the most appropriate behavioral pattern based on the task and followers’ characteristics (Phillips & Phillips, 2016). In Amani’s case, the leader should choose to be supportive since the employee is unsatisfied and likely to need affiliation or human touch. The performed tasks must be repetitive and unchallenging, which leads to Amani’s low morale. Hence, the leader should provide nurturance and try to make Amani more involved in the group’s life by his participation in cross-functional teams. It is possible to offer new tasks and responsibilities that can become the challenge the employee needs.

Bassman may benefit from the use of the achievement-oriented style as the tasks seem challenging and complex to him. The leader should help the employee to develop a step-by-step plan to master the new software. Mentorship and additional training may be needed, but it is important to encourage the employee to share his views on the major difficulties he faces. The leader should use the participative behavioral patterns with Hadeel and Rawan, who are autonomous but still need clarity and a certain degree of control. The leader should try to identify the reasons for the conflicts and help the employees overcome them. Effective communication through diverse channels is essential in this case. Finally, Samah will benefit most from the leader’s directive behavior. The tasks seem ambiguous and complex to him, and the roles are still unclear. Hence, the leader should instruct the employee and try to inflict in-group attitudes on him.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that the leader can use the LMX and path-goal theories when developing relationships with the mentioned employees. The utilization of the situational leadership approach is appropriate in this case as the existing issues related to employees’ morale and performance are characterized by some peculiarities. The characteristics of each case should be assessed, and the corresponding behavioral pattern can be developed to address the needs of each employee. The situational approach to leadership is instrumental in the establishment of effective relationships between the leader and followers, which leads to high morale and performance.


Cote, R. (2017). A comparison of leadership theories in an organizational environment. International Journal of Business Administration, 8(5), 28-35. Web.

Khan, Z. A., Nawaz, A., & Khan, I. (2016). Leadership theories and styles: A literature review. Journal of Resources Development and Management, 16, 1-7.

Phillips, A. S., & Phillips, C. R. (2016). Behavioral styles of path-goal theory. Management Teaching Review, 1(3), 148-154. Web.

Thompson, G., & Glasø, L. (2015). Situational leadership theory: A test from three perspectives. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 36(5), 527-544. Web.

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