When Should a Leader Be Directive or Empowering? How to Develop Your Own Situational Theory of Leadership

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Case Study Analysis: When should a leader be directive or empowering? How to develop your own situational theory of leadership

Situational leaders are some of the most effective leaders according to Blanchard (2010), McShane and Von Glinow (2012), and Sims, Faraj, and Yun (2009). Blanchard refers to situational leaders as people who see potential that people can and want to achieve and are able to encourage and develop it. Sims and colleagues did research on a medical team and found that two of the five leadership styles they found the most common were directive and empowering. Blanchard suggests that situational leaders empower their direct reports thought treating situations according to the current circumstances. The article by Sims and colleagues state that through these five leadership types you have to use situational leadership and judgment to know what type of leadership style works best. In the article, Sims, Faraj, and Yun (2009) expose five steps for approaching the task of fitting leadership types to the situation at hand. The first is identifying the outcome (goal), the second is identifying the proper leader role (directive/ empowering), the third is acknowledging situational conditions (immediate action or overtime), fourth is matching the leader type to the condition (i.e. directive leader = immediate action needs to be taken), and last is verifying the right leader is in the position (is the right person in charge of the leadership type or is someone else more qualified). Sims and colleagues examined this in the medical field through observing surgeons, patients and the direct reports. The combination of these encounters displayed all of the vital roles of leaders. These five steps are mirrored in Blanchard’s (2010) view of situation leaders. He states they need to be flexible, able to diagnose a situation, use multiple leadership styles when necessary, and performing communication for best results. These steps by Sims and Blanchard can be...
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