There is no single “best” style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those who adapt their leadership style to the maturity (“the capacity to set high but attainable goals, willingness and ability to take responsibility for the task, and relevant education and/or experience of an individual or a group for the task”) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it also depends on the task, job or function that needs to be accomplished.
The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model that is supported on the webinar rests on two fundamental concepts leadership style and the individual or group’s maturity level.
Hersey and Blanchard characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of Task Behavior and Relationship Behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behavior types, which they named S1 to S4:
S1: Telling - is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, why, when and where to do the task;
S2: Selling - while the leader is still providing the direction, he or she is now using two-way communication and providing the socio-emotional support that will allow the individual or group being influenced to buy into the process;
S3: Participating - this is how shared decision-making about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing fewer task behaviours while maintaining high relationship behavior;
S4: Delegating - the leader is still involved in decisions; however, the process and responsibility has been passed to the individual or group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress.
Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation.
M1 - They still lack the specific skills required for the job in hand and are unable and unwilling to do or to take responsibility for this job or task. (According to Ken Blanchard “The honeymoon is over”)The right leadership style will depend on the person or group being led. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory identified four levels of maturity M1 through M4:
M2 - They are unable to take on responsibility for the task being done; however, they are willing to work at the task. They are novice but enthusiastic.
M3 - They are experienced and able to do the task but lack the confidence or the willingness to take on responsibility.
M4 - They are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing to not only do the task, but to take responsibility for the task.
Maturity Levels are also task-specific. A person might be generally skilled, confident and motivated in their job, but would still have a maturity level M1 when asked to perform a task requiring skills they don’t possess.