Developed by Ken Blanchard, Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) is one of the most highly regarded and widely used leadership strategies in the business world. It is a leadership model for adapting one’s style in order to get the best performance out of a given employee with a given goal or directive.
Business leaders have a tendency to use the leadership style that suits them best rather than the style that would suit their employees best (reference, DISC, which describes our preferred style). SLII® works to move the focus off of the leader and onto the employee to find a style of directing, motivating, and teaching a given person in the way that will work best for them.
Being able to adapt your leadership style isn’t easy, but it can become a lot easier if you’ve mastered the three skills of Situational Leadership®. Mastering these skills will help you improve workplace leadership for yourself and everyone who reports to you.
- Goal Setting
The first skill that must be mastered is figuring out how to work with people on an individual basis to help them set goals that are SMART – specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable. Before you can assess how someone performs, you need to have a joint understanding of what they w=are trying to do in the first place. By setting SMART goals, you can help your employees understand from the get-go what is expected of them, why their contribution is important, and why and when you need the goal to be accomplished.
Setting a SMART goal doesn’t necessarily mean setting a goal that will be easy for the person to achieve. Some goals may be routine, and others may be incredibly difficult, and that’s ok – as long as both you and the employee understand what the employee is up against.
The way to do this is to diagnose both the competency level and commitment level of the employee with regard to the task at hand – that’s the second Situational Leadership® skill.
According to SLII®, there are four basic development levels – self-reliant achiever, capable but cautious contributor, disillusioned learner, and enthusiastic beginner. If you’re asking an employee to learn a new coding language, they’re likely an enthusiastic beginner coming into the task with little knowledge, but eager to learn. If your goal for your most experienced sales person is to have them bring in three new clients by the end of the quarter, you can probably trust that they are a self-reliant achiever, able to manage the task primarily on their own.
Once you’ve diagnosed the competency and commitment of your employee with regards to a certain task, the final skill is matching an appropriate leadership style to them that will give them the level of support, motivation, and direction that they need to succeed. People with less skill will need more directive leadership, and people with expert knowledge will need more supportive behavior.
Check out this article from the Harvard Business Review for more top skills used by effective leaders.