The Situational Leader

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  • 0:10 The Situational Leader
  • 0:33 Situational Leadership Defined
  • 1:27 Situational Leader Example
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Discover what makes the situational leader different from other types of leaders, following the contingency school of management. Learn how situational leadership is applied in the workplace.

The Situational Leader

You like pot-a-to. I like pot-ah-to. You like tom-a-to. I like tom-ah-to. Pot-a-to, pot-ah-to, tom-a-to, tom-ah-to - who's to say which is right? Depending on your preference, I am sure you could easily argue one is better than the other, but is that always true in every situation? The situational leader would suggest not.

Situational Leadership Defined

The situational leader emerged out of the contingency school of management, which can be summarized as the 'it all depends' approach.

According to situational theorists, there are no universal behaviors or practices appropriate for all leadership scenarios.

They believe effective leader behaviors differ from situation to situation. A manager must choose the appropriate management style based on the leadership situation and the capacity of both the leader and his or her followers. Consequently, before the situational leader can make decisions, they have to first assess these factors. The situational leader will then adjust their style to accommodate any limitations that surround the situation, themselves, and the subordinates.

Situational Leader Example

To better understand situational leadership, let's take a look at this example.

Sanjay is a head nurse at a small hospital. As a nurse, Sanjay faces high pressure situations that require him to assess the surrounding circumstances on an individual basis. For example, when faced with a situation where a patient is receiving routine treatment, Sanjay can allow his subordinates to participate in the decision making and even allow them to make decisions on their own. Because the situation is typical and Sanjay's employees are well trained to handle it, he can be far more laissez-faire, or give the least possible guidance to subordinates. However, in a code blue scenario where a patient might be on the verge of dying, Sanjay must maintain a higher degree of control over the situation and decision making.

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