10 Situational Leadership Characteristics

The situational leadership theory is based on the premise that there is no best style of leadership, and it all depends on the situation.

The situational leader evaluates their team or organization by simply asking about the current situation of the organization. Based on the understanding that is derived by answering this question, they do what is required to successfully lead the team.

The following are some of the basic characteristics of the situational leadership style. Since the leadership style is flexible, there are no fixed traits that a situational leader exhibits. These attributes may all come into play depending on the situation.

1. Flexibility

The fundamental idea of situational leadership is that there is no such thing as a single best or fixed type of leadership. Leadership changes according to the requirements of the group or organization, and successful leaders are able to be flexible and adapt their style of leadership to the level of maturity of the group that they’re trying to lead.

2. Changes according to the situation

The leadership style that the situational leader brings into play will be dependent on the situation at hand and the development level of the individuals involved. If the development level is low, the situational leader becomes more task-oriented. If the individuals are sufficiently developed, the leader will be more supportive.

3. Directing

Situational leadership will be high on the “directive” aspect when the subordinates are not sufficiently developed and need constant supervision. Here, the leader gives specific instructions about what the goals are, and exactly how the goals need to be achieved. It is similar to a parent supervising the actions of a toddler.

4. Coaching

If the situation demands it, the leader will also coach their team. This is an extension of the directive approach; the leader still provides detailed instructions but they also focus on encouraging the subordinates, soliciting inputs, and explaining why they have made certain decisions.

5. Participating

The situational leader may try to encourage a team to become more independent performing the tasks by letting them take routine decisions. High-level problem-solving is still under their purview, but they allow team members to actively participate in the decision-making process.

6. Delegating

When dealing with a highly matured and capable team, the situational leader will gradually reduce their supervision and involvement in the daily activities of team members. The leader is involved while discussing the tasks and deciding on the goals to be achieved, but after that team members have complete freedom on how they want to accomplish these goals.

7. Integrity

The situational leader does not change their approach merely to take advantage of the situation. They simply adapt in a way that is most appropriate considering factors such as the maturity level of followers, the organizational structure and culture, and the goals to be achieved. They do so with integrity, and are not motivated by a desire to unfairly capitalize on the weaknesses of the team or organization.

8. Courage

It takes a lot of courage for a leader to try out different leadership approaches and figure out which one is ideal. Most leaders stick to a particular way of doing things – whatever has worked best for them in the past. But situational leader is not afraid to take chances and to adopt a radically different leadership style if the situation demands it.

9. Clear vision

The situational leader has a clear vision of where the team is going. This is what allows a leader to identify and adopt the most effective behaviors and strategies to get to the goal.

10. Humility

The situational leader does not claim to know it all. With a group of highly developed and mature followers, they have the humility to accept limitations and seek the higher wisdom of the group.

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