Organizational Behavior - Jean Lewis at Staples Case Study

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July 17, 2007

The interchange between task behavior, relationship behavior, and follower readiness is the foundation of situational leadership. Different focus on relationship or task behavior is applied to followers on different readiness levels.

Task behavior is the degree of detailed direction given by a leader to a follower or a group for them to perform a task. Included in these directions are specifics of the methodology to perform the task as well as the place and the parties involved.

Relationship behavior is the grade of interaction between the leader and the follower or group.

Readiness is the degree of willingness and capability that a follower demonstrates.
“The two major components of readiness are ability and willingness” (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2001)
Ability is composed of the follower’s qualifications for a particular task. Hersey (2001) catalogs these qualifications as knowledge, skill and experience.
Willingness is the level of confidence, commitment and motivation that someone shows. Willingness is not a personal attribute as it varies from a task to another.
Confidence is the expressed belief that one is able to perform a task. The fact that an individual is confident does not necessarily make him capable of completing an assignment, as it is a mental state rather than a measure of skills.
Commitment is an established dedication to undertake a responsibility, and motivation is the expressed desire to do it.

Based on the degree of ability and willingness an individual can be classified into four levels of readiness as follows:
R1 - Unable and Unwilling
R2 – Unable but Willing
R3 – Able but Unwilling
R4 – Able and Willing
R1 individuals do not have either the necessary level of skill or the commitment to perform a task.
R2 individuals are not qualified, yet have the willingness to undertake the responsibility.
R3 individuals have the ability to perform the task but are reluctant to execute it.
Finally, R4



Cited: Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, D. E. (2001). Management of organizational behavior: Leading human resources (8th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Pp. 171-203. Suesse, J. M. (2000). Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. Pp. 1-14 (78-91).

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