Situational Leadership

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Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (www.leadershipnow.com[->0]). This is just how Jeanne Lewis a graduate from Harvard Business School approached management. She motivated and pushed her followers to accomplish the things she felt needed to be done. As a leader within Staples Inc. she was able to accomplish a great deal by recognizing the readiness of her followers and applying the correct leadership style. In the following paragraphs we will discuss what follower readiness is, it’s four levels, the four levels of leadership style and how the leadership style used is determined by the readiness level of the followers. We will also take a look at how Jeanne Lewis successfully assessed her follower’s readiness and appropriately chose the correct leadership style for each situation she was in.

It is important to first understand follower readiness and how it relates to the Situational Leadership styles Jeanne used. Readiness can be defined as the follower’s ability and willingness to accomplish the task at hand. A follower’s readiness is often related directly to the task itself and how comfortable the follower is with their ability to successfully accomplish the task that has been asked of them. As tasks change the followers readiness may also change and each of these changes may call for a different leadership style. This helps to motivate subordinates to accomplish the job at hand. To accomplish this, the leader may need to apply a leadership style that is appropriate to each individual situation. An example of this would be that it is inappropriate for a manager to constantly be looking over the shoulder and carefully directing every move of a follower who has the knowledge and motivation to accomplish the task with little supervision. In order to choose the correct leadership style we need to look and the four levels of follower readiness.

To see how Jeanne was able to be a successful leader it is necessary to understand each of the four readiness levels of those she was placed charge over. The first level is Un-able and Un-willing. At this level the follower has neither the skills nor the motivation to accomplish the task at hand. The second level is Un-able but Willing. Here the follower lacks the skills to accomplish the task but is motivated and willing to give it a try. For example, John is an up and coming employee who has been asked by his supervisor to edit information to the company website. John is excited to have new opportunities and projects but has no experience with web pages. In order for him to accomplish the task he will need guidance and step by step instructions in order to get the web page updated. Level three follower readiness is Able but Un-willing. With this level the follower has the necessary skills to successfully accomplish the task but lacks the motivation. This lack of motivation can be due to the insecurity of the follower not being confident in their ability or simply the lack of desire to perform the task. The fourth and final stage of readiness is Able and Willing. At this level the follower has the skills and the confidence or motivation to accomplish what it is that is being asked of them.

With each of the four readiness levels there are also four leadership styles. The first leadership style is High Task and Low Relationship. Here the leader is more or less pushing the task to be accomplished and is not considering the feelings or suggestions of the followers. Leadership style two is High Task and High Relationship. The leader is concerned with getting the task done but is also aware of the follower’s feelings and suggestions concerning the task. The third leadership style is Low Task and High Relationship. With this style the leader is more concerned about the follower’s suggestions and feelings and less concerned about the task at hand. The last leadership style is Low Task...
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