Situational Leadership Theory

Situational leadership theory was advanced by Dr. Paul Hersey and argues that leaders must not rely on a single management style in fitting all situations. In this regard, leaders coupled with managers need be flexible with their style of leadership to enhance getting the best for their individual and teams. Equally said, situational leadership calls for managers, heads of departments and executives to fine-tune their leadership styles to suit their subordinates instead of the subordinates modifying their actions to suit a given position (Dinh et al., 2014). This essay seeks to examine the effectiveness of situational leadership. The study further analyses three situational leadership elements: the life-cycle theory, the path-goal theory, and the contingency model. Through using the theories above, the study will also analyse their strength and weakness when leading staffs.

Situational leadership is not only valuable but also applicable in molding operative leadership culture since it requires that the upper-level managers, as well as leaders within an organization, amend their regulation of the subordinates continually to remain relevant and effective within their industry (Thompson, & Glasø, 2015). Following the advent of Social media and speedily evolving technology, global interconnectedness is rising. It is domineering to argue that for organizational leaders; abreast current trends, as well as movements within social media or in other avenues improving business bottom-line through utilizing situational leadership, is a reality.  Adjusting to varying times, and shifting workers demographics, while maintaining the mission and core values of an organization imply that leadership will develop and flourish and endure preserving its worth (Dinh, et al., 2014).



The Life-Cycle Theory

The life cycle theory of leadership posits that as groups’ mature, appropriate behaviors of leadership changes from higher tasks and lower considerations too, high to high considerations and low-to-low tasks. The life expectancy theory usually incorporates maturity in the working relationships. Maturity, in this case, entails taking responsibility, relative independence as well as attaining motivation among groups and individuals. According to the theory, as the maturity level of followers grows, they transverse life cycles where leadership behavior becomes less either structure or having lesser socioeconomic support (Gorshkova, Trifonov, & Poplavskaya, 2014, p. 708).

Strength the Life-Cycle Theory

The life-cycle theory empowers leadership through maturity leading to molding effective leaders. Also, the theory is significant in building effective leadership from childhood. It helps in nurturing talents.

Limitations the life cycle theory

The theory is rigid because it depends on the development of maturity to have effective leadership. The reliance limits the flexibility of leadership. Moreover, the view of the theory has a short-term view because employees mature at different levels either early or late.

The Path-Goal Theory

The path-goal theory entails considering the effects of leadership behaviors in satisfying, motivating and influencing the performance of employees. Equally said, involves leadership styles, which fit employees as well as their working environment in achieving the desired goals. The bases of the path-goal theory are that individuals act in different ways according to expectations that the actions are trailed by certain outcomes as well as the outcomes attractiveness to individuals. Further, the theory may be assumed as a progression where leaders select unique behaviors which best suits the needs of employees and the functioning environment to enable guiding staffs through paths in achieving their daily goals (Phillips, & Phillips, 2016, p. 150).

Further, the path-goal theory has four subdivisions namely: direct, supportive leadership, participative and achievement-oriented leadership. First, direct leadership defines anticipated performance levels, the processes coupled with procedures, which its followers must follow in achieving organizational goals. Directive leaders also told followers on their expectation, how to conduct their duties as well as the deadline for completing a given task.

Supportive leadership, on the contrary, involves approachable leaders who attend the wants and wellbeing of followers and make follower more pleasant. Equally, supportive leaders are respectful and treat workers equally.

Conversely, leaders that apply collaborative leadership style in making decisions characterize participative leadership. Such leaders solicit employees’ opinions and ideas in making a decision and integrate their suggestions (Phillips, & Phillips, 2016, p. 150).

Lastly, in achievement-oriented leadership, leaders compel employees to attain excellence in their work performance. The leaders seek to improve workers efforts to lead to the attainment of their goals.

Strength of the path-goal theory

The path-goal theory is advantageous because workers and leaders exchange effective leadership. Further, the theory facilitates in connecting work setting with developments skills of workers. Equally, it interconnects workers task with the needs of employees in leadership.

Weakness of the path-goal theory

Path theory relies on the expectancy theory. The expectancy theory aim at primarily explaining motivations as cognitive processes and fail to consider emotional factors as well as the influence of emotions on staffs’ performance. Also, the complex or unstructured job does not necessarily create anxiety and stress among staffs that need directive leadership. For instance, professionals do not need directive leadership.

The Contingency Theory

Fiedler’s contingency theory is the cornerstone of situational leadership (Otley, 2016, p. 45). The model associates focus on tasks or individuals to three variable conditions:  leaders-members relation (good or poor), tasks structures (structured or unstructured) and leadership positions power (strong or weak).  The three elements recount on leadership situations within a certain time and emphasize the need for flexibility while adopting various orientations. Fiedler theory of contingency is centered on the premise that there are no best ways for superiors to lead. In this regard, various situations create diverse requirements of leadership styles for managers.

Fielder analyses three elements, which dictate situational leadership control:

  • Task structure: whether the work is exceedingly structured, justly structured or in between. The indication in details (favorable) on what is needed for the subordinates’ affects task structures.
  • Leaders or members relations: this element relates to the level of dependability, support or loyalty which leaders receive from employees. Whereas within a favorable association, managers have exceedingly formed task structures and can reward or punish staffs without any difficult, in an unfavorable association, the task structures are poorly formed limiting the leader’s authority.
  • Positioning power entails measuring the powers that leaders perceive the organizations have bestowed them to direct, reward and punish subordinates. It depends on the favorable and unfavorable decision making powers of staffs (Otley, 2016, p. 46).

Advantage of contingency theory

Contingency theory has widened comprehension of leadership scope from a single focus to emphasize the significance of leadership styles and the demands of various situations. Also, the theory implies that leaders should not be expected to be effective equally during all situations. Consequently, organizations should only consider leaders during their optimal situations depending on their style of leadership. The theory has also proved of having ‘predictive power’ in establishing the type of leaders effective in certain context.

Disadvantages contingency theory

However, the theory is rigid.  The model lacks flexibility. Fieldler assumes that natural leadership is fixed and relates to personality characteristics. He is of the opinion that natural leadership is the best style of ruling. He failed in considering that leaders may apply natural styles of leadership through adjusting their styles to attain the best results.


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