One of the more widely recognized approaches to leadership is the situational approach, which was developed by Hersey and Blanchard based on Reddin’s 3-D management style theory. The situational approach has been refined and revised several times since its inception
As its name implies, the situational approach focuses on leadership in situations. The premise of the theory is that different situations demand different kinds of leadership. From this perspective, effective leadership requires that people adapt their style to the demands of different situations.
Blanchard’s model stresses that leadership is composed of both a directive and a supportive dimension, and that each has to be applied appropriately in a given situation. To determine what is needed in a particular situation, leaders must evaluate their followers and assess how competent and committed the followers are to perform a given goal. Based on the assumption that followers’ skills and motivation vary over time, Blanchard’s SLII® suggests that leaders should change the degree to which they are directive or supportive to meet the changing needs of followers.
In brief, the essence of Blanchard’s SLII® approach demands that leaders match their style to the competence and commitment of their followers. Effective leaders are those who can recognize what followers need and then adapt their style to meet those needs.
The dynamics of this approach are clearly illustrated in the SLII® model, which comprises two major components: leadership style and development level of followers.