Ken Blanchard – Situational Leadership


Ken Blanchard is internationally renowned for his situational leadership model developed with Paul Hersey and his “One Minute Manager” series co-authored with Spencer Johnson.

Blanchard’s “One Minute Manager” series and situational leadership model are popular as they are simple to use and widely applicable.

The Situational Leadership Model

Ken Blanchard’s situational leadership model outlines 4 different leadership styles that can be adopted depending on the situation or task.

Competence versus Commitment (Skill vs Will)

The leader assesses the development level of the “follower” with regard to completing a specific task. The leader assesses the follower’s level of competence and commitment in that situation and correctly matches their leadership style with the development level of the follower.

An effective leader is able to move fluidly between each leadership style, recognising that a follower will have different development levels for different tasks.

Development (D) Level

Competence Skills

(D1) Low Competence, Low Commitment – low skill level i.e. no training, understanding of how to complete the task, previous experience and lacks motivation or confidence to complete the task.

(D2) Low Competence, High Commitment – has desire or incentive to complete task but low skill level.

(D3) High Competence, Low/Variable Commitment – can competently complete task but lacks confidence or perceives task as high risk

(D4) High Competence, High Commitment – experienced and motivated to complete task independently.

Leadership (S) Style

(S1) Directing – one-way communication where leader tells and shows follower what to do, and closely supervises them doing it.

(S2) Coaching – two-way communication where leader directs what needs to be done, seeking ideas and suggestions from the follower.

(S3) Supporting – leader focuses on motivation and confidence issues and leaves task decisions to follower.

(S4) Delegating – leader provides high-level direction only and further involvement and decision making is controlled by follower.

Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model has been adopted by many large companies as it is easily learned and applied.

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