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Situational Leadership

In order to be successful and thrive, every leader of an organization has to develop an effective leadership culture. Leadership culture is usually interpreted as a range of norms and attitudes that evaluate the managers’ leadership level in a particular organization. John MacGuire and Gary Rhodes compare a leadership culture with a firm building with cement walls and steel ceilings, which will provide shelter for everyone who will observe its rules (MacGuire & Rhodes, 2009, p. 17). According to this comparison, leadership culture is a vital part of a company’s organizational culture. There is a common belief that following a leadership culture is usually a formula for success for every organization. Those individuals who do not accept the existing rules and norms prescribed in organization’s leadership culture often lose the battle (Palus, 2009, p. 5). Thus, in order to develop a successful leadership culture in an organization, one must be aware of some rules, approaches and theories of effective leadership. One of the most appropriate theories is the situational leadership theory the main idea of which is that there is no ideal style of leadership. Nowadays situational leadership phenomenon is very popular so it can be investigated within the scope of three main situational leadership theories.

The importance of Fiedler’s contingency theory to the development of leadership culture cannot be underestimated. The uniqueness of this theory is that it does not concern the exact leader but a great majority of people who follow them. Thus, by selecting a proper style of behavior, a leader can influence their adherents’ willingness to do a specific task. The theory is based on three main dimensions, namely relations existing between a leader and their subordinates, the structure of the task and power of a leader in a given situation (Plunkett, Allen, & Attner, 2013). The ideal situation would be when the leader-employee relations are firm, the team works on the well-structured task, and the authority of the leader is beyond any doubts. The theory also claims that fairness of the leader is of vital importance for the team performance (Michaelsen, 1973, p. 227). However, this theory does not work in all situations. Thus, the main drawback is that the three dimensions of the theory are subjective and depend greatly on the context.

Talking about House and Mitchell’s path-goal theory, it is also a vital source of leadership culture development. The theory is effective for the leadership culture improvement because it shows the models of leadership behavior one can use to stimulate others. Path-goal theory claims that the main advantage of a leader is the power of his influence on the subordinates. It is worth mentioning that the subordinates perceive leader’s behavior differently. Thus, the behavior is appropriate when it leads to the employees’ satisfaction. However, satisfaction must not come immediately because the key is to show the way to this satisfaction. Nevertheless, in any case, the behavior of the leader should motivate the employees and inspire them to excellent performance. According to the path-goal theory, leader’s behavior is divided in four types, namely “directive path-goal clarifying leader behavior, supportive leader behavior, participative leader behavior and achievement-oriented behavior” (House, 1996, p. 327). Talking about the directive path-goal leadership behavior, it is realized when the leader announce the exact plans to their subordinates. Moreover, the leader directs their employees using tips for achieving best results. Thus, this model is rather result-oriented than relationship-oriented. Regarding the supportive leader behavior, it is appropriate for those leaders who prefer to be on friendly terms with employees. Hereby, this behavior foresees much support and understanding towards the subordinates. The drawback of this model is that while spending too much time for solving the employees’ problems, the leader loses time for doing important tasks. What concerns the participative leader behavior, it is even more tolerant. The reason is that the whole team acts as a group of individuals, and each member can make their decision towards the problem. Sometimes, it is very difficult for the leader to guide their employees in the right direction. The most effective is the achievement-oriented behavior. By setting the list of tasks, the leader encourages their team to do the job properly (House, 1996, p. 327).

The importance of Hersey and Blanchard’s theory of situational leadership in the development of leadership culture is that it focuses on and helps to analyze the competence of the group that is a vital factor in leadership culture. The authors of the theory distinguish between four behavior styles of leaders, namely telling, selling, participating and delegating (Hersey & Blanchard, 2010, p. 1). Telling is the most demanding style of leadership. It is realized in the form of commands issuing by a person in a leading position and their fulfillment by the subordinates. Usually this type of leadership style triggers a high performance but low relation level between the leader and the staff. Selling is more tolerant type of leadership style. At this stage, leaders act not only as demanding but also as supportive people. They understand the needs and possibilities of their employees and do not demand too much of them. Thus, the majority of people claim that selling is the ideal style of leadership behavior as it promotes the fulfillment of high tasks and supports good relations between the leader and the subordinates. Participating style is not as effective as the previous one because it does not allow one to achieve distant aims. The reason for it is excessive loyalty of the leader towards their followers. In fact, this style of leadership behavior promotes mutual respect and trust between the members. Thus, all decisions are usually made not by the authorities but every employee. However, it the proverb says, “So many men, so many minds”, which means that everyone has their ideas and wishes. Nevertheless, these ideas should not prevent the company from achieving great results. Thus, too much democracy does not always mean success. However, participating style is not as ineffective as delegating one.

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