Situational Leadership Application in The Case of Five Employees


The Vice President of operations recently promoted you to branch manager and moved you to a new branch office where the morale among employees is low and performance is poor. Of the five employees, Amani has the most tenure with six years. Amani seems to have the lowest morale and is not motivated to do the work, although he is quite capable of doing it successfully. Bassmah has been with the company for four years but has not mastered the new software and is performing at a low level even three months after being trained on the software. Hadeel also has four years with the company and Rawan has two years. Hadeel and Rawan are responsible for client contact, and while in the past they worked well together on reaching out to clients, now there are conflicts and low morale. Samah has been with the company just three months and does not understand what is expected on the job and is contemplating leaving the company.

Approach the case as the branch manager well versed in situational leadership.

  • Explain situational leadership to your Vice President.
  • Determine the readiness level of each employee and explain your reasoning.
  • Determine the appropriate leader behavior to match the employee level and explain your reasoning.
  • Develop a plan of action as to how you will lead each person to higher performance and morale and explain it to your Vice President.

Situational Leadership Application in The Case of Amani, Bassmah, Hadeel, Rawan, and Samah

Low morale and poor performance are some of the most pressing problems in the workplace for any supervisor or manager. The failure to address poor performance can have detrimental impacts on the business and its bottom-line. Although dealing with poor performance is time consuming, managers should not divert their attention away from the heart of the problem by, for instance, spending most of their time supervising productive employees. Instead, they should devote more resources to increase the performance of underperforming employees. Managers who fail to provide guidance and support to poorly-performing employees only make matters worse since this sends a clear message to the entire workforce that no employee should worry about meeting the supervisor’s expectations.  This paper applies situational leadership approach to a business case that involves poor performance and low employee morale. Situational leadership allows the manager to adopt the most appropriate leadership styles depending on the situational factors of the context.

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            Developed by Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey, situational leadership draws the manager’s attention to the circumstances of the environment (Raza & Sikandar, 2018). The implementation of situational leadership requires the leader to adjust his leadership approach to match the development level of the followers that he is trying to influence (Northouse, 2018, p.93). This means the leadership style continually changes to meet the needs of individual employees or certain groups within the workforce. The leader may choose to tell and direct; sell and coach; participate and support; or even delegate entire tasks to employees. In situational leadership, the development level of the follower dictates the type and scope of leadership techniques to be used in a particular context. Employees with high needs and minimal experience demand the use of direction while those with high competence and low needs require delegation.

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            Accordingly, the employee with the highest level of needs in the presented case is Samah since she has worked for the company for three months but does not understand her job expectations. She even contemplates leaving the firm. This situation calls for the use of direction(Thompson & Glasø, 2015). The manager should tell and direct Samah what she needs to accomplish in her job role. The most relevant leadership style is visionary leadership because it aligns with the tactic of telling and directing. A visionary leader makes decisions and informs the follower about the decision after which the follower acts in accordance with the decision. This style of leadership may be perceived as micro-management because of the heavy involvement of the leader in task direction and supervision. Visionary leadership necessitates the leader to be charismatic so as to identify themselves as confident coaches who improve performance while cultivating meaningful relationships.

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            The next employee in terms of development is Bassmah, who, despite having worked for the company for four years, has not mastered the new software or recorded good performance. Her performance hinges directly upon her technical skills, as well as her behavioral skills. Her considerable tenure in the company implies she has moderate knowledge of her job description, but her insufficiency in skill spells her need for direction. In this case, the leader should apply the selling and coaching approach which obliges the leader to involve themselves in day-to-day activities while collaborating with the follower. The concept of selling addresses followers who have developed some competence while maintaining commitment. The leader must emphasize the development of relationship with the employee to build trust and enhance motivation toward organizational goals. A focus on interaction between the leader and the employee brings in the collaborative aspect of leadership. Hence, if the leader wants to generate value, he should balance between motivation and influence to make an impact on the behavior of the employee.

            Hadeel and Rawan need support and collaboration from the leader. They are skilled at their tasks but have not achieved their full potential because of interpersonal conflicts. The leader should step in as an intermediary as well as a partner in the client department. By participating and supporting Hadeel and Rawan, the leader intervenes in the situation while leaving enough autonomy for the two to make decisions and carry out tasks. The leader is merely present to provide feedback, guidance, confidence, and motivation. This style of management may be termed as participatory. It is commonly used in situations where employees are well aware of their tasks but do not have the motivation to complete them. The style works by inculcating motivation in the followers (Thompson, & Glasø, 2015). In essence, participative leadership is focused on the management dimension which relies on contribution by various participants and incorporates a strong component of motivation. The style works by evaluating the needs of the workforce and creating a plan to fulfill them.

            The employee with the least needs is Amani. She is capable of completing her tasks but is greatly inhibited by her low morale. She also happens to be the employee with the largest tenure in the company. To lead and motivate Amani effectively, the leader must assess her basis for the lack of motivation. This will allow the manager to make the right decisions. There is a wide range of reasons why employees may display low morale, including low pay, lack of purpose, lack of trust and transparency, and micromanagement. The leader should also focus on building trust and loyalty. A paternalistic leadership style would be a matching leadership style as revolves around moral integrity, benevolence, and strong discipline. While this style may make it hard for the manager to prioritize organizational needs over the personal needs of the employee, it allows them to bridge the emotional distance between leaders and followers (Lynch, 2015). Furthermore, a paternalistic leadership style fits perfectly in Amina’s case, where open communication and upward flow of ideas may foster feelings of positive morale.

 In conclusion, situational leadership style is effective in the modern business environment. Today, the workforce is more diverse, and employees have individual needs that must be fulfilled in order for them to reach their full potential. Situational leadership helps the manager to match the right leadership style with appropriate scenarios. It incorporates four concepts: telling, selling, participating, and delegating. Telling is suitable for new employees who have little or no experience while delegating is aimed towards more experienced employees who simply need motivation to reach their goals. When the employee cannot complete a task because they are less knowledgeable and experienced, the leader must spend more time with the employee. On the other hand, leaders can spend minimal time with competence employees.

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