Situational Leadership in 5 Minutes


Managing a team is something extremely complex, there’s no magic recipe out of the box in order to lead a team towards success, but there are a set of theories that provide some guidelines that can become very useful for our day to day work.

I believe that Situational leadership is one of those great tools and comes very handy when you are trying to find the path to delegation for some members of your team.


Situational leadership is a theory that is not focused on the leader as a supreme being but based on how a leader should change his leadership approach based on the people involved and the task at hand.

A development level matrix is built according to the combination of ability and confidence:

  • ability/competence: Technical knowledge, theoretical preparation, learnings from previous experiences.
  • confidence/security: State of mind for the assigned task.

If we put those components in an XY axis graph, we will end up in 4 basic degrees of development level.

On the other hand, we have 4 different management styles that match each one of those levels.

S1 – Directive: Highly directive leadership is mostly “Do this, in this way, by this time”. There is no autonomy and little opportunity to be creative.

S2 – Coaching: You give feedback, you ask hard questions. They can come to you when they are stuck or need to solve a problem, and you share the learnings for each task and vision that you have for the team and the talent.

S3 – Supportive:  You work through the tasks with the team members to improve their skills and talent until they are fully empowered in a particular area.

S4 – Delegation: Freedom to pick problems, priorities, solutions, and timelines.

By adding this new information, our chart will end up looking like this:


By adapting your management style based on the development levels you will find the following benefits :

  • Clear expectations will be set from scratch.
  • You’ll have a clear picture of how deeply involved you’ll need to be in each task.
  • You will be able to find challenging tasks for each one of your team members.
  • The journey from S1 to S4 for your team members will be more pleasant.
  • Each one of the members of your team will be comfortable about the way you approach when asking information about their work.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense, for instance: you won’t act in a directive way with a Senior member of your team, actually, you want him/her to be capable of making decisions and defining priorities by himself/herself.


In my experience situational leadership it’s a great tool when new team members arrive: if the analysis is correctly done, the manager will be able to walk with her/him in the onboarding process so the confidence level matches the level of competence.

If you are designing a high-level plan for the career development of the members of your team this could totally work too.


Works Cited

Sarasqueta Víctor Gustavo .Liderazgo y negociación: Capacidades Integrales Para El desempeño Eficaz En Contextos Competitivos. Temas, 2010.