situational leadership style

How To Adopt Situational Leadership Style?

Leadership styles are a hot topic. While a few traditional leadership styles exist, many new theories are coming up to adapt to the changed circumstances. The situational leadership style is an unconventional method that leaders are adopting globally to help their organizations become agile.

As a manager or leader, you need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. That’s where situational leadership style comes in – a style of leadership that allows you to lead effectively in different situations. By understanding how situational leadership works, you’ll be better equipped to handle different challenges and get the best results from your team.

In this blog, we’ll explain the four different situational leadership styles and list the qualities needed to carry out the role effectively. We’ll also provide tips on applying situational leadership model in your work life and discuss the benefits of using this leadership style. So if you’re looking for an effective way to lead your team in the future, read on!

What is situational leadership?

Leadership is one of the most essential skills that anyone can possess. And, as the world becomes increasingly complex and fast-paced, leadership skills become even more critical. That’s where situational leadership model comes in. It’s a type of leadership best suited for complex and rapidly changing environments. The leader’s approach shifts as per the need of the individual and the situation. So, they become supportive when they need to guide a team member to achieve more, or they adopt a more indirect approach when they can let the team member grow into their role. By nature, it is pretty flexible. As teams grow, leaders can change their leadership style to enhance opportunities.

Situational leadership leaders can adapt quickly and make decisions based on the situation. This style of leadership is perfect for organizations that need to be flexible and agile to succeed. So, situational leadership model is the ideal approach for you if you’re looking for a leadership style that can help you thrive in a rapidly changing environment.

4 Situational Leadership Styles

The situational leadership style is one management and leadership style that betrays any single definition. That sounds confusing, right? While it is a highly flexible leadership style, there are differences between the leadership style of different managers following the situational leadership approach. Based on the inclination towards direct or indirect support to the team member, four types of situational leadership styles can be defined, which situational.com elaborates –

The Telling Leadership Style

Under the telling leadership style, the leader focuses more on the tasks rather than building a relationship with the team member. It does not mean relationships are not valued here; the manager simply prioritizes work-related goals over other things. With this, the leader provides adequate support and guidance to thrive in their role. Typically, they tell the employees to do something. They generally focus on ensuring that the team members clearly understand their instructions.

This style involves the close intervention of the leader in the work being done by the team members. Hence, it is useful when leaders need to measure performance closely and repeatedly. Team members new to work or learning a new skill could use this method well. The leader holds substantial power here.

The Selling Leadership Style

The second type, the selling leadership style, ensures a high emphasis on both work-related goals and building relationships. Like the previous style, the leader focuses on work and decision-making. But, on the contrary turn, they also allow questions and discussions. Hence, in addition to instructions, we also get opportunities that make the team member feel valued. Their motivation and efforts are recognized duly by their leader.

This approach is helpful for leaders handling team members who may come with limited experience but sufficient enthusiasm for the job. With these, the mix of instructions and appraisal can work as an excellent way to direct their energy to get maximum productivity at work.

The Facilitating Leadership Style

This leadership style shifts the focus from the leader to the team. Here, the leader takes a backseat, wherein they simply help the team members do their best. In order to do this, they provide guidance, motivation, and insights from their experience. The focus is on building a relationship by trusting the team member’s ability to achieve thier work-related goals.

This approach is pretty helpful for team members who are competent but are unable to accomplish tasks due to a lack of motivation or confidence. A manager’s belief in their skills can help such employees achieve a lot at work. There is generally a lot of space to discuss problems and raise questions with leaders who follow this approach.

The Empowering Leadership Style

Under the last situational leadership approach, the leader moves their focus from the task and the relationship. Instead, they look at the team member. A leader following this style helps their employee grow by practicing effective delegation. They are employed to learn and do more in their role.

Leaders adopt this approach when they are sure that the team member is proficient in skills and confident in themselves to do their job successfully. In such a situation, they allow them to function autonomously. The team member can contribute significantly to the direction of work through their suggestions and ideas, valued and considered by the leader adequately.

Leadership qualities needed for situational leadership style

The world of work is constantly evolving, and so is the need for leadership styles. As a situational leader, you can identify and respond quickly to changing circumstances. This allows you to keep your team or group focused on the task at hand and moving forward. So, how do you become an excellent situational leader? Here are five leadership skills required for situational leadership style that you should master:

Coaching skills

An excellent situational leader can provide coaching and development opportunities for their team members. It not only keeps them on their toes, but it also strengthens the bond between leader and employee. It is especially essential in handling team members who are relatively inexperienced and need help. Often, you will need to adopt a very hands-on approach and show things as they are done to many people. Helping someone grow into their potential is an essential part of a leader’s job, and situational leadership style aligns well with this approach. Hence, you definitely need to work on your coaching skills to become an excellent situational leader.

Employee engagement and motivation

One of the key skills you need as a situational leader is employee engagement and motivation. It means bringing out the best in your team – both now and in the future. To do this, you must develop an environment that inspires people and makes them feel valued. Sometimes it can be hard work, but it’s definitely worth it when you see great results- such as increased productivity or better quality work output. You need to have good employee engagement skills if situational leadership approach is what you are looking at because you might need to motivate many of your competent employees to achieve their goals.


A good situational leader can make quick and effective decisions. It can be a critical aspect of leadership, especially when things start escalating quickly and there are multiple options with different implications. The best situational leaders know how to process information to make sound decisions rapidly. They also can stay calm under pressure, even in high-stress situations. If you want to become skilled at situational leadership, then decision-making must be your forte because choosing a leadership approach is a decision too, and an important one!


Delegating work is a skill that situational leadership demands. Delegating tasks can help people focus on their jobs and boost efficiency. However, empowering in a way that leaves team members feeling confident and in control of their work is essential. Delegation should never feel like an imposition or be something someone does at the expense of others. You will need to master effective delegation to empower your team members effectively. It is critical to developing an ownership attitude in them at work, which will help them grow more professionally.


Last but undoubtedly most important, you must be highly adaptable to be a good situational leader. The premise is pretty self-explanatory. Situational leadership requires you to constantly shift approaches and act differently per your team members’ needs. Thus, you need to be able to adapt to different circumstances, conditions, and the nature of the people to select the right approach for leading them effectively.

At its core, situational leadership approach is about adapting yourself to your team’s needs and getting the best results with their support.


Situational leadership is the perfect fit for you if you are looking for a leadership style that can adapt to different situations. This type of leadership is based on the theory that different situations call for different leadership styles. Understanding and using the right situational leadership style for the case can lead your team to success. This blog outlined the four different situational leadership styles and explained how they work. If you want to learn more about leadership and how it can help your business, check out our website!

Are your decision-making skills prepared to help you adopt situational leadership? Test now.

Risely’s free decision-making self-assessment will help you identify the blind spots that hold you back.

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