The right leader at the right time

Christoff Oosthuysen reviews “Leadership and the One Minute Manager – Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership” by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi, published by William Marrow, an imprint of Harper Collins (1985).

You may have heard the advice many times – that you will get the best results if you treat all your staff members the same.

For many entrepreneurs, this has become core to their approach of building a productive team where all feel equally valued.

But Ken Blanchard and the other co-authors of “Leadership and the One Minute Manager” argue that this is not the best way to get the most out of your team. You need “different strokes for different folks”, they say, and may even have to adjust your leadership style for the same person, to allow for the different situations he or she may find him or herself in.

The proposed approach is called “situational leadership” which is “not something you do to people, but something you do with people”.

Essentially the book outlines four leadership styles that you can choose from based on the requirements of the situation.

This is because the style of leadership best suited for one staff member may be different to the style of leadership needed for another staff member; or because the style of leadership best suited for a specific staff member in a specific situation may be different to the style of leadership needed with the same staff member in another situation. This explains why it is called “situational leadership”.

The four leadership styles combine “supportive behaviour” and “directive behaviour” by the leader.

When directive behaviour is high and supportive behaviour is low, the leadership style is to give clear instructions that must be executed (Blanchart calls it “directing”).

However, when supportive behaviour is increased, while maintaining high levels of directiveness, the leadership style becomes more like that of a mentor (Blanchart calls it “coaching”) – there is still a high level of giving, however the staff member is allowed more independence to execute within a supportive environment.

When the leader reduces the level of directiveness, but maintains a high level of support, the leader depends on the staff member to be in charge of the initiative, knowing that the support will be there when needed (Blanchart calls it “supporting”).

And then, with the last of the four leadership styles, both supportive and directive behaviour are low, allowing the staff member to work independently (Blanchart calls it “delegating”).

As a leader, your task is to choose which of these styles will be most appropriate for the situation and for the applicable staff member.

This book explains how to determine which style to choose.

It is indeed easy to understand, both in terms of the presentation and the simplicity of the leadership model.

And it is well worth reading today, even given that the book was published 30 years ago.

The lessons are as applicable today, as they were back then.

, Drea Zigarmi, Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, , William Marrow

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