Employees want the opportunity to grow and excel. In 2016, 87% of Millennials said they felt professional development and/or career growth opportunities were very important to them. Likewise, 76% of employees viewed opportunities for career growth as a top non-financial motivator at work. But career growth is a two-way street.
Employees can only learn the skills they need to reach the next level if they have leaders who provide them with the right combination of support and direction.
The trouble with most leadership models is that they focus more on the leader than the people being led. But Situational Leadership® II is different. Developed by Ken Blanchard, SLII® is not a way to lead for people but with them. Let’s look at the basic principles of SLII® to better understand this extremely popular leadership model.
Goals, Diagnosis, and Matching
The basic model of SLII® is a three-step ladder. First a leader must set individual work goals with their team members that are SMART – specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Learn more about how to set smart goals here.
Next, the leader must diagnose the competence and commitment of the team member with regard to their specific goal or task. Competence refers to the person’s demonstrated knowledge or skills that will allow them to complete the goal. Commitment refers to their motivation and confidence with regard to the goal.
Finally, the leader must use their diagnosis to match the appropriate leadership style to the person to help them achieve their goal as efficiently and effectively as possible. It’s called “situational” leadership, because your style may need to change from goal to goal or task to task, even with the same person.
The Four Development Levels
Through observation, assessment, and one-on-one conversations, the leader will diagnose which of the four development levels a team member falls into with regard to a specific goal.
- D1 – Low Competence, High Commitment: If a team member has no experience with a particular goal, they’re likely to be an enthusiastic beginner, in need of direction but eager to learn something new.
- D2 – Low to Some Competence, Low Commitment: This person may have tried to learn a particular skill and become frustrated or disillusioned, or they may be afraid to make mistakes or ask questions.
- D3 – Moderate to High Competence, Variable Commitment: This person may have the necessary experience, but may lack self-confidence or their motivation to achieve the goal may have diminished.
- D4 – High Competence, High Commitment: This person has lots of experience with the task at hand and the will to get things don
Remember that these development levels are task specific. A person could be a D4 with one goal and a D2 with another goal. Ken Blanchard developed a handy chart to determine which level best represents your team members .
The Four Leadership Styles
Matching Leadership Styles to Development LevelsEach development level is best served by a different leadership style. Once you understand the development level of a team member with regard to a specific task, you can determine what type of leadership will help them succeed most effectively.
- S1 – Directing: The leader should provide this person with specific directions and keep regular tabs on their progress, allowing for questions and feedback.
- S2 – Coaching: This person likely still needs some direction, but the leader should provide plenty of coaching to help them stay motivated and encouraged.
- S3 – Supporting: In this case, the leader and team member can make decisions together. The leader should facilitate, encourage, listen, and support.
- S4 – Delegating: The leader can (and should) let this team member take charge of their own task and simply provide support and a sounding board when needed.
That, in a nut shell, is the Situational Leadership® II model. We hope that it helps your company improve employee development — and leader development, as well!