Hersey and Blanchard model

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Hersey and Blanchard model of situational leadership was developed in 1968 by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, and was a basis for development of situational approach to management. In situational approach to management each action taken by managers is good if it is applied respective to the current situation. The best answer to the question of how to manage is: "it depends." Effective solution used in one situation may give completely different results in other. According to the situational approach, the manager should determine which method in a given situation and conditions is best to achieve the goals.

Process of leadership

Leadership is a process of positive impact (not to be confused with manipulation) on members of the team performing actions towards the common goal. Leaders often take unpopular decisions and refer to intuition, promote independence and responsibility. They are trying to create conditions for taking risks and learning. They loudly express their support for people who are trying to improve products, services or production process. The leader inspires people, in contrast to manager who controls and give orders.

Competences of leader according to Hersey and Blanchard

The leader should possess the following competencies

  • Ability to properly diagnose the situation and determine the needs of the group,
  • The ability to use different leadership styles according to the degree of maturity of individual employees,
  • communication skills, to properly inform people on goals and objectives of the team,
  • knowledge on a broad, management methods and techniques giving best results in a particular situation,
  • ability to build relationships (formal and informal) between people in the organization,
  • the ability to use knowledge and competence in practice.

The most important of these skills is the ability to communicate with people, because it is through people manager pursues the objectives of the organization. By proper communication manager:

  • Avoids conflicts
  • Improve cooperation
  • Increases the possibility of impact on people.
Fig. 1. Hersey and Blanchard situational leadership model

Management style and maturity of employees in Hersey and Blanchard model

In order to find the appropriate style for manager, they should determine the level of professional maturity of employee. It is determined by two main features: their competencies and motivation (morale). The competences include knowledge or skills. Maturity include motivation and self-confidence in the possibility of achieving the objective (fig. 1.).

Given these two factors 4 levels of maturity can be distinguished:

  • M1 - low competence and high morale - the employee is unable to execute the task (low effectiveness) but nevertheless very motivated to carry it out (high morale). It is often result of lack of experience. These are usually young workers.
  • M2 - medium competences and low commitment - negatively oriented employee who can not independently do a good job and has a low level of willingness to act (low morale).
  • M3 - medium / high competence and low commitment:
    • sufficient competence but low desire and morale because of a lack of faith in own strength.
    • low level of morale and willingness to act because of boredom.
  • M4 - high competence and high commitment - the perfect employee.

For each employee's maturity level managers should use different management style.. Accordingly 4 management styles can be distinguished:

  • Q1 - instructing - the manager should carefully define the objectives, support worker to assist him in the planning and organization of activities. It requires strong commitment and, above all, patience and listening skills of the manager.
  • Q2 - consulting - the role of the manager is to build and increase self-confidence in the employee. Manager gives instructions although the selection of the final solution to the problem should belong to the employee.
  • Q3 - supporting - the manager encourage the employee to discuss, to share their own experience, and above all, to facilitate problem solving.
  • Q4 - delegating - manager should promote independence and increase employee responsibility for task and goal achievement. Manager should encourage people to take on new challenges, fully delegate the decision powers to the employee.

Requirements for manager in Hersey and Blanchard model

Situational approach requires high flexibility from managers. In addition, its main features include also:

  • decentralized organizational forms and high participation,
  • direct contacts as a means of coordination,
  • high innovation in adapting the company to the external conditions,
  • high level of vertical and horizontal communication,
  • highly developed collegiality,
  • determining the objectives of the action depending on the priority of tasks.

Criticism of situational approach to leadership

Critics of situational approach indicate that:

  • Situational approaches can not be considered a separate management theory (it only integrates different theories)
  • There is nothing new in it, because already H. Fayol in the classical school drew attention to the need for flexibility and adaptation of management methods to the situation.