Introduction Intervention was deemed necessary at a local school pertaining to the initial class, which students were failing. The department head identified that the change in direction required new textbooks, altered assessments, and increased student participation to be successful. The department head first had to identify his/her situational leadership style to effectively implement changes to improving the class while gaining buy-in from faculty and students. The premise for change existed because of the failing scores.
The flexibility of the department head was imperative in the success of the change; the skill levels and attitudes of the students and faculty were a consideration in deciding the best style the department head should adopt for this endeavor. Summary of Self-Assessments Using Hershey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Style Summary/Self-Assessment, the department head scored the highest in S2 (selling/coaching area) with a seven, which corresponds to D2 followers. The S2 style has both a high task and high relationship focus.
The department head’s second highest score was a four in the S3 (participating/facilitating) area, followed by a one in S4 (delegating/observing), and finally S1 (telling/directing) with a score of zero. The department head agree with the results of the assessment because the majority of his/her career had been with subordinates with lower skill levels that were willing and motivated to learn; the leader has less experience and involvement with a tenured, skilled staff. Applying Leadership Style The department head’s leadership style was beneficial to many of the teachers and students because of the less directive approach.
Because this was a new initiative, the teachers and students started at ground zero. The need for change had already been presented, which was for the students in the introductory class to be successful. Although some resistance was expected, the common goal was desirable. The department head’s S2 leadership style was conducive to the faculty and students that were willing to incorporate changes, but needed direction and encouragement. The leader was highly relational and task-driven, which fit the needs of the D2 followers
who were competent enough to carry out the tasks with guidance and support. S2 and S3 leadership styles have been found to have the greatest follower satisfaction (Papworth, Milne, & Boak, 2009). The department head communicated to the students and faculty that change must be incorporated to make future classes successful and met with each faculty member to help write implement new lesson plans if needed. The leader stated the new lesson plans must be in place within the next eight weeks while making it clear he/she was available for any questions or concerns.
The department head also met with the students to address any concerns they may have had regarding the change and assured them that they could come to him/her at any time. According to Lerstrom (2008), the department head’s S2 style offered an opportunity to faculty and students through open dialogue to gain buy-in. The department head’s leadership style was also appropriate for S3. The faculty was able to implement the change because they demonstrated competence, but were resistant in doing so showing no commitment.
The leader can give praise to the faculty and show encouragement as positive reinforcement when buy-in is attained. The first step was to find out why the faculty or student did not show the needed commitment for the change and to gain their cooperation. The department head could start by explaining the benefits of the changes on a higher level. The upcoming classes would be successful; thus providing job security for faculty members. This could persuade the faculty that redoing the lessons plans would pay off in the future.
Using this style, the followers make a commitment and take responsibility (Lerstrom, 2008). The S1 style may also be appropriate when dealing with new teachers who are unfamiliar with writing lesson plans and are insecure in their abilities. Instructing subordinates in their areas of low competence builds confidence (Papworth et al. , 2009). Taking a directive role without regard to relationships may deliver an undesired result such as decreased retention, but when a change is needed immediately there may be little time to build relationships.
The leader will also have to assess the new faculty in areas of competence and skill while determining the reason for lack of motivation and buy-in with relation to the directive. To be effective in styles outside the preferred S3, the department head must seek out opportunities to practice these skills. Volunteering with new hire teachers would improve S1 skills while working with motivated and tenured facility would improve skills in S4. The department head’s leadership style was not appropriate for quadrant S4. The directive was already met with push-back; the students and faculty needed direction not observation.
The leader could not watch from a distance to ensure the directive was carried out. The department head had to be hands-on to facilitate the change. The followers were not committed to the change and were not motivated to implement the directive. Faculty was competent in writing lesson plans, which meant more work. To ensure this would be done within the allotted time, the department head needed to be present. Students would need to participate more, which required commitment. The S4 leadership is appropriate when the group of followers as willing and able to implement the task at hand (Lerstrom, 2008).
Benefits and Challenges Some of the benefits of situational leadership include the learning of new skills associated with each level of both leader and follower (Lerstrom, 2008). People skills and building relationships are required for situational leadership. The model is easy to comprehend and points out strengths and weaknesses of leaders, which will enable the department head to improve in the needed areas. The department head has been influenced just by taking the assessment and learning his/her areas of strengths and opportunity A drawback of situational leadership is being stuck in the quadrant that is preferred.
It is important that leaders be able to match the needs of followers. Leaders that are able to be flexible in their leadership styles have better performing subordinates (Papworth et al. , 2009). Being aware of the preferred style has influenced the thinking of the department head; he/she is planning on improving in the less preferred quadrants. Another drawback is the limited empirical evidence presented using situational leadership (Papworth et al. , 2009). Summary The department head was identified as S3, which indicates high levels of task and relationship focus.
Although this is one of the preferred styles, the leader has learned to be flexible between the quadrants as the faculty and students dictated what degree of task assistance and relationship-building was warranted. Because the directive to make changes to the class was determined outside the control of the faculty and students, the change was met with resistance. This forced the normally S2 style leader to evolve into an S3. The skills and competence were present to navigate the change, but the motivation and attitude to implement the change were lacking.
The preferred style is not always the best for the directive. Being able to gauge the skill level and attitude of employees has directed the leader to know which style of situational leadership to choose. References Lerstrom, A. C. (2008). Advising Jay: A case study using a situational leadership approach. NACADA Journal, 28(2), 21-27. Papworth, M. A. , Milne, D. , & Boak, G. (2009). An exploratory content analysis of situational leadership. The Journal of Management Development, 28(7), 593-606. doi: http://dx. doi. org/10. 1108/02621710910972706