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Situational Leadership – Hersey & Blanchard [Example!]

Situational Leadership – Hersey & Blanchard [Example!]

What is Hersey & Blanchard‘s situational leadership model and how can you apply it? In this article you will find a case and an explanation of this model.

What is Hersey & Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model?

A simplified application of the model can be seen in the situation where a new employee has just been hired. The leader starts by applying leadership style S1. After some time, S2, S3 and finally S4 can be applied to this new employee.

  1. If there is a motivated and competent employee, then as a manager you are most effective when you delegate (S4).
  2. If there is a neither motivated nor competent employee, then as a manager you are most effective if you correct and confront, followed by guidance (coaching) (S2).
  3. If there is a motivated employee who is not competent, then that person will benefit most from an instructive leadership style (S1).
  4. If there is a competent, but not motivated employee, support is most beneficial (S3).

Let’s apply this Hersey & Blanchard model to a management dilemma

Imagine that your company has the following fictitious management dilemma:

Company x wants to achieve (an atmosphere is created in which) the team members can use their qualities even better and work as one team towards the common goal with (even) more commitment and cooperation. However, this cannot be obligated to anyone.

The partners of company x have already implemented a change based on the Hersey & Blanchard situational leadership model: the team members can independently determine their working hours and tasks.

Analysis – Application of Hersey & Blanchard’s situational leadership model

  1. Hersey and Blanchard’s management style S1 “Lead” offers the solution to this management dilemma. Instructions are given in this quadrant. For more commitment, the common goal must be clearly explained. In the first instance, freedom can be offered to make use of people’s qualities. This makes the employees feel important and appreciated to give their all.
  2. The degree of support can then be increased when the employees have made use of that freedom, so that substantive matters can be corrected or improved. The leader will therefore have to convince the staff more often of the most effective and efficient methods.
  3. When the employees have received enough attention in this way, control can decrease: fewer guidelines need to be given. This frees up time to consult more often as equals about substantive matters.
  4. The support can also decrease after that. There will then be full delegation.

The high degree of independence can be continued. This can also be expressed in encouragements. The team can be felt important by asking for their opinion and advice. They can also be given a good reputation, which will give them an even greater sense of independence and do their best. After a certain project, honest and sincere appreciation can be expressed, even if there were bad results, so that confidence in the independence remains.

The reaction of the team members

The more free form gave Piet a greater sense of self-determination. The dilemma is further resolved for Piet by:

  • Positivity
  • In addition to the profit goal, also communicate the social mission of company x.
  • Do more together, for example projects.
  • Make a joint goal top of mind and actively manage it.

Marietje became calmer and more relaxed because of the freer form, because her points are now more in her own hand. The dilemma is further resolved for Marietje by:

  • Talk about the goals together, also at times other than the weekly meeting.
  • To be reminded of what goals have already been achieved.

Read more about this situational leadership model

Read the book by Dr. Paul Hersey to go into depth about this model.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!