Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model – KEY POINTS

Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model
Spread the love

Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model – KEY POINTS

Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model offers a dynamic framework for leaders to adapt their style based on the maturity and readiness of their followers. This theory, developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, emphasizes that effective leadership is contingent upon a leader’s ability to diagnose and respond to the unique needs and capabilities of their team members. By understanding the interplay between leadership behavior and follower maturity, leaders can enhance performance, motivation, and overall success.

Understanding Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model

The Situational Leadership Model proposes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Instead, it focuses on the adaptability of leaders to match their style with the characteristics of their followers. The model assesses follower maturity across two dimensions: competence (the knowledge and skills to perform a task) and commitment (the willingness and confidence to take on the task).

Key Components of the Situational Leadership Model

Leadership Styles:

Telling (High Task, Low Relationship): Leaders provide specific instructions and guidance, suitable for followers with low competence and commitment.
Selling (High Task, High Relationship): Leaders offer direction while building relationships and motivating followers with some competence but low commitment.
Participating (Low Task, High Relationship): Leaders involve followers in decision-making, fostering collaboration and commitment, ideal for those with moderate competence and high commitment.
Delegating (Low Task, Low Relationship): Leaders empower followers to make decisions, providing minimal guidance, best suited for those with high competence and commitment.

Follower Maturity:

The model assesses follower maturity based on competence and commitment. Low maturity followers lack the necessary skills and confidence, requiring more guidance. High maturity followers possess the expertise and motivation to take ownership and work independently.

Leadership Adaptability:

Leaders must assess the maturity level of their followers and adapt their style accordingly. This adaptability ensures that followers receive the right balance of guidance, support, and autonomy based on their capabilities and commitment.

Goal of Maturity Development:

The ultimate goal is to develop followers’ maturity, gradually moving them from low to high maturity. Leaders aim to enhance competence and commitment, enabling followers to take ownership and responsibility.

Applying Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model

The Situational Leadership Model has practical implications for leaders seeking to enhance their effectiveness:

Diagnosing Follower Maturity:

Leaders can assess the competence and commitment levels of their followers to determine their maturity stage. This assessment guides the leader’s choice of leadership style.

Adapting Leadership Style:

Based on the follower maturity assessment, leaders can adjust their style to match the needs of their team. For instance, a “telling” style may be suitable for new or inexperienced team members.

Developing Follower Maturity:

Leaders should aim to develop their followers’ maturity over time. This involves gradually shifting from more directive to more delegative styles as followers gain competence and commitment.

Enhancing Motivation and Satisfaction:

By providing the right level of guidance and support, leaders can increase follower motivation and satisfaction. Adapting the leadership style to match maturity ensures that team members feel empowered and engaged.

Example: Applying the Situational Leadership Model

Consider a software development team led by a manager using Hersey and Blanchard’s model. The team includes experienced professionals with high competence and commitment. The leader adopts a “delegating” style, providing minimal guidance and empowering the team to make decisions independently. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and motivation among the team members, leading to innovative solutions and improved performance.

Comparison with Other Leadership Theories

Hersey and Blanchard’s model offers a unique perspective compared to other leadership theories:

Trait Theories:

Trait theories have traditionally focused on identifying innate leadership traits, assuming that certain characteristics are inherent in effective leaders. However, Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model challenges this notion by emphasizing adaptability. This model suggests that effective leadership is not solely dependent on fixed personality traits but rather on the leader’s ability to adapt their style to the needs of their followers. Leaders who can assess the maturity and readiness of their team members and adjust their approach accordingly are more likely to foster motivation, engagement, and success. This adaptability is a key strength of the Situational Leadership Model, setting it apart from trait-based theories.

Contingency Theories:

Contingency theories, including Fiedler’s Contingency Model, emphasize the dynamic relationship between leaders and their environments. These theories suggest that leadership effectiveness depends on the fit between a leader’s style and the situation. Similarly, Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model acknowledges this interaction but takes a more nuanced approach. Their model provides leaders with a detailed framework for adapting their style based on the maturity of their followers. By assessing follower maturity in terms of competence and commitment, leaders can more effectively tailor their guidance, support, and delegation, ensuring a more successful and engaged team.

Transformational Leadership:

Transformational leadership theories and the Situational Leadership Model both acknowledge the significant influence leaders can have on their followers. However, they differ in their primary focus and approach. Transformational leadership emphasizes the role of leaders in inspiring and bringing about significant change in their followers, often through charismatic and visionary behavior. It focuses on the broader impact and transformation of individuals and organizations. In contrast, the Situational Leadership Model takes a more practical and adaptable approach, concentrating on adjusting leadership styles to align with the maturity and readiness of followers. This model is concerned with providing the right level of guidance, support, or autonomy based on the competence and commitment of team members. While both theories recognize the importance of leader behavior, the Situational Leadership Model offers a more nuanced and tailored approach to leading, ensuring that followers receive the support they need to excel.


Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model provides a powerful tool for leaders seeking to optimize their impact on their teams. By recognizing the importance of follower maturity and adapting their leadership style accordingly, leaders can enhance performance, motivation, and overall success. This model underscores the value of flexibility, situational awareness, and the development of follower maturity, ultimately contributing to the achievement of individual and organizational goals.


  • Emphasizes the situational contingency of maturity, or “readiness,” of followers.
  • Readiness is the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task.
  • Leader style and follower readiness.
    • A telling style is best for low readiness.
    • A selling style is best for low to moderate readiness.
    • A participating style is best for moderate to high readiness.
    • A delegating style is best for high readiness.
  • Substitutes for leadership.
    • Sometimes hierarchical leadership makes essentially no difference.
    • Substitutes for leadership make a leader’s influence either unnecessary or redundant.
  • Examples of leadership substitutes.
    • Individuals’ experience, ability, and training.
    • Individuals’ professional orientation.
    • Highly structured/routine jobs.
    • Intrinsically satisfying jobs.
    • Cohesive work group.
  • Examples of leadership neutralizers.
    • Individual indifference toward organizational rewards.
    • Low leader position power.
    • Physical separation of leader