Leadership Styles

In this paper, I will discuss the management issue of supervising subordinates. We will look at a text that gives a comprehensive assessment of the science of human behavior in business. It is the objective of this discourse to provide tools whereby the reader can (1) review how s/he applies these concepts, (2) determine whether s/he is providing an environment of growth for the employee, and (3) analyze his or her own management style in order to improve it.

These concepts can be taught to your managers and supervisors. They will make your organization operate more efficiently by creating a frame of reference for decision making. We would be happy to discuss working with your company on any of the ideas that are presented in these pages.

Management Styles
Behavioral Indicator
  The extent to which a leader... 
Goal setting

Setting Time Lines

Specifies the goals people are to accomplish.
Organizes the work situation for people.
Sets time lines for people.
Provides specific directions.
Specifies and requires regular reporting on progress.
Behavioral Indicator
  The extent to which a leader...
Giving Support

Facilitating Interactions

Active Listening

Providing Feedback

Provides support and encouragement.
Involves people in "give-and-take" discussion about work activities.
Facilitates peoples's interactions with others.
Seeks out and listens to people's opinions and concerns.
Provides feedback on people's accomplishments.

Situational Leadership and Various Organizational Settings

The authors go on to describe how Situational Leadership works in various settings, parent-child, R&D personnel, and the educational setting.

Parent-Child Using one style throughout a child's development is ineffective.
S1 produces either rebellion or passivity
S2 produces "Mama's boy" or "Daddy's little girl" syndrome
S3  produces the "spoiled brat" syndrome
S4 removes the parent leaving the peer group to teach the child
Research and Development The level of education, research experience, and maturity of R&D personnel are such that they do not need a great deal of structure in their work. A low task/low relationship is most appropriate.
Teacher-student Gradually changing the teaching style as the student gains maturity has proven to raise test scores and increase enthusiasm, morale, and motivation.
Administrator-board Rather than patronize the board with high relationship/low task (S3), it is better to use a high task/high relationship behavior (S2).
Administrator-faculty The education and maturity of faculty members make the S4 style most appropriate. They do not respond well to an administration initiating much structure. Sometimes they tend to resent it.

A Word About the Wrong Style

Using the wrong style can actually cause an employee to reverse his or her development progress. For instance, if a manager pushes an employee, who is at M2 maturity, into decision making too early, the employee will become unwilling to perform and drop into M1 behavior. Or if an employee is at M3 maturity and the manager uses S4 style, the employee will take the lowered relationship behavior as disapproval and lose confidence. This will take him or her back to the M2 style of maturity. There also may be times when an employee simply reverts to a lower maturity level for other reasons that may be personal or job related. When any of these effects occur, it is better for the manager to revert to the style that is appropriate for the employees current behavior. Hersey and Blanchard call this "The Regressive Cycle.

The authors devote a whole chapter on "Constructive Discipline." I will discuss this area and the area of relationship building in a future newsletter.


Hersey's and Blanchard's book represents a professional look at management. Most often, we become immersed in the day-to-day exigencies of our jobs. We are often driven by the urgent tasks and not the most important ones. However, it is important devote time to honing our craft, the art of management. Hersey and Blanchard provide a framework in which to understand the relationships between management and subordinates. I find it to be an intuitive model. Moreover, the diagram of management styles vs. maturity levels is easy to remember.

Sales Management

One of the most enigmatic areas of personnel management is the supervision of sales persons. I have heard it described as "trying to herd cats." These individuals are motivated by "making the sale." Even with rejection, they will persist until their particular addiction, closing the sale, is reached. As such, good sales people are very "willing" to call on customers. Those who do not have that willingness, may not acquire it, and thus, may not develop into good sales persons.

Even though sales persons are willing, does not mean that they are capable of selling. Although there are "born sale persons," most of us have to learn the science of selling. We must learn the different types of personality and how to approach each one. We must learn about our customer's motivations to buy. We must be able to structure our selling on needs, features, benefits, and proofs. We must learn about time management. These are the areas which can be developed in new, relatively immature employees. Situational analysis can be applied very effectively.

Persons with a proclivity for selling would show a willingness to sell. This might place young sales persons into the second quadrant indicating an S2 type of leadership style. The "telling" style might not be tolerated well since this kind of individual thrives off of human relations. In my use of Situational Analysis, I have found that good sales people pick up the art quickly and can be moved rapidly into the S3 and S4 styles of leadership.

I hope that you have found this discourse to be interesting. If you have made it this far through the discussion, you must have found something useful for your own personal situation. If you have any questions on the issues and concepts here, I would be happy to discuss them with you. Just follow my links on this page to me or e-mail me at robmac@remnet.com.

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