Leaders are role models who influence the culture, values, thoughts and actions of the organization and its people. The leadership style practiced by managers greatly influences the performance and productivity at the work place. The situation leadership model encourages managers to flexibly use their leadership style based on the situation and thus achieve effective results. Both at the middle managerial level where leaders work closely with people and at higher managerial level where leaders are responsible to a number of people, their approach has an impact on the motivational levels of the organization.
A leader needs to constantly inform him/herself of the motivational needs of the employees, one of simple factors of success cited in the organizations is a motivated workforce. The 4 leadership style of Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating proposed in the situational leadership model can be used as per the motivational need of the subordinate. For example, for a senior manager who has been recently recruited and who boasts an illustrious career graph would need more responsibilities and opportunities to prove himself i.e. Delegating to remain motivated. On the other hand a fresher joining the organization may look at more Telling and a little participative approach to keep him/her motivated. A leader has to carefully evaluate and then decide on the right approach for the subordinate.
Situational Leadership has all the more relevance when teams work together especially across functions or locations. In these cases the team members might be physically separated from the leaders and the work situations might rapidly change, in such cases, maintaining the involvement and motivation level of team members becomes important. To create a high performance team that works effectively, the style that the leader would have to choose may be unique for each team.
Apart from this, a leader has to provide a vision to the people; it is the visions which help them direct and redirect their efforts towards it. In the recent times where changes are rapid in the organizations, the leaders have to be fully sensitized to what style would work the best, sometimes they might have to use a combination of styles to address issues effectively. For e.g. for a new change that is being introduced, the initial approach has to be Selling, where people are educated about the change, the next step becomes Telling, where the people have to be instructed as to how the change would be carried out. When the change starts settling in and people adopt it, they style can become Participating, where the people get an opportunity to partner in the change and take it ahead. The last change would then become delegating when the change can now be carried on by the others. The ultimate aim of any leader is to smoothly arrive at a stage where he/she can easily delegate tasks without worrying about its completion or effectiveness.
The leadership style also has a bearing when leaders are to act as mentors and coaches for their subordinates. The learning style of the subordinates can be interpreted in the terms of Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating. Some subordinates learn when they know exactly what is to be done, some learn when they know the importance of the task, some learn when they understand the how of what is to be done, and ultimately some learn when they are actually allowed to perform the task. When a leader acts as a coach he/she has to keep in mind what works best for the coachee and the fact that what works for one might not work for the other.