Can Effective Leadership Be Developed?

Tangible skills such as finance, accounting, marketing, are leaned in the classroom by attending vocational or college level courses depending on the field an individual pursues. Intangible skills such as conflict resolution, counseling, require training and development offered by an internal Training Department or outside consultants or external resources.  However, not everyone is successful at these intangible skills regardless of the number of in-services and conferences they attended.  Such skills also require a leader to possess the innate ability to terminate a team member’s employment, address performance issues, develop a member to grow within the organization.    

When team members know their leader is deficient in one or several or all of these intangible skills, the leader more than likely will not be effective in leading the team.  Many teams consist of a group of people with varying levels of skills, knowledge, education, and experiences.  If their intrinsic and/or extrinsic needs are not being met, they may do one or all of the following:

  • Gossip and bring down the morale of the team

  • Transfer

  • Complain to their boss’s boss or to Human Resources

  • Perceive they are being discriminated and pursue outside counsel

  • Resign

Intrinsic needs are those internal career-related goals and desires a member wants to achieve such as advancement, recognition, responsibility.  Extrinsic needs are tangible goals or desires such as pay, time off, work from home. 

One model of leadership theory was developed by Paul Hersey and Paul Blanchard in the early 1970’s to help leaders become more effective. The Hersey and Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory categorized leadership into four behavioral types also known as situational leadership styles (S-1, S-2, S-3, S-4) and matched the styles according to the maturity level or task level (M-1,M-2, M-3, M-4) of individual team members. 

S-1 Leadership & M-1

High Directive/Low Supportive

“Telling” 

S-1 style is used when members (M-1) lack the skills and are either unable or unwilling to assume responsibility for their assignments, or time pressure is great, group interaction is not important, or routine work is involved.  Communication for the most part is one-way.    

S-2 Leadership & M-2

High Directive/High Supportive

“Selling”

S-2 style is used when members (M-2) want to do well in their jobs but need some extra guidance, or teamwork is needed or staff development is important, and/or complex job demands exist.  Leaders will motivate by encouraging participation and feedback while stressing accountability and performance. 

S-3 Leadership & M-3

Low Directive/High Supportive

“Participating”

S-3 style is great to use when members (M-3) are committed and have the necessary skills and motivation to their jobs well but may need guidance from time to time.  Leaders involve members in the decision making and focus less on authority and more on relationship behavior. 

S-4 Leadership & M-4

Low Directive/Low Supportive

“Delegating”

S-4 is used when members (M-4) are highly motivated and responsible individuals who possess the skills and are able to complete their assignments with minimal support. 

In summary, if a leader can identify the level where their members are performing, know each member’s intrinsic and extrinsic needs, lead them to success or have them realize their limitations and seek alternatives, they will be not only be effective but retain talent, meet production/performance demands, and create pleasant working conditions.   

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