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Situational Leadership is based on the principle that there is no best leadership style to use all of the time but that the best leadership style will be dependent on the situation a leader is in.  Intuitively this makes sense, right?  If you’re trying to engage or motivate an executive with industry tenure, your approach should certainly be different than that which you’d take with a recent addition to the team at a junior level.  So let’s take a closer look at why situational leadership is such a key leadership skill. 

The needs of individuals vary based on the type of relationship

Motivating employees takes a different approach based on the needs of that employee.  As we see in the Hi Low Matrix, the best approach for an individual is very much based on where they are from a skill and will perspective.  In addition, a strong leader will tailor their approach based on the communication and motivational needs of their employees.  Being able to adapt the approach taken based on the needs of each employee may take longer, but ultimately achieves stronger and longer term results. 

The maturity level of groups of people are different

As any manager or leader knows, group dynamics can change drastically from team to team or function to function.  Being able to adapt to the needs to these groups is critical to engage and drive successful collaboration in group situations.  Situational leadership is about assessing the abilities and aptitude of the group and adapting leadership styles to achieve the strongest performance.  By doing so, teams reach peak performance faster and collaboration is stronger.

Developing people takes flexibility

The needs and goals of each employee will always vary and to be able to best develop your talent you must be able to target their needs specifically.  A wide brush will not work when focusing on employee development.  This is why situational leadership is a key facet in employee development planning

Different types of tasks take different types of approaches

When managing a functional back office team versus a far reaching project, different leadership approaches are key.  In order to ensure the goals of a task are successfully delivered the variables you focus on in your conversations with teams, individuals, and stakeholders needs to change. 

Leadership is about adaptability

There are plenty of great leaders who have lead Fortune 500 companies but when they entered new roles in new organizations, ended up failing brilliantly.  This is often because the leader failed to adapt to the demands of the new culture or environment.  Anyone who has transitioned jobs and especially companies knows that not all tricks work in all situations.  Some organizations have cultural nuances that need to be accounted for.  Others have market or product complexities.  No matter what the situation, a strong leader is a leader who can adapt to the changing needs of their environment and rise to any challenge.