As we continue to face the unexpected challenges 2020 is throwing at us, adaptability as a leader is essential. Adaptable leaders are always in learning mode, knowing that success is less about what you know and more about how well you can adapt and learn from the ever-changing world around you.

As a result, employees are taking on new tasks and challenges outside the scope of their current roles. It’s necessary for leaders to adapt accordingly and practice situational leadership in order to keep up with the increasing demand for new skill sets especially as companies are downsizing and expecting the same level of productivity from fewer employees. 

The situational leadership style (“SitLead”) is based on the principle that there is no such thing as a single best or fixed type of leadership. Being an effective leader requires adjusting your style to fit the employee’s skill and comfort based upon what they are undertaking. In the current state of the world where fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are wreaking havoc on everyone’s emotions it’s even more important to re-assess the skills and comfort of your employees because the stress everyone is under is having an effect on their ability to perform in their roles.

The Situational Leadership Model

  1. Direct

The first step involves high directive and low supportive behavior. In other words, offer specific guidance and close supervision. When someone is learning something new, they genuinely appreciate being told what to do.

It’s important to use a direct approach if you recently hired someone. This means providing clear instructions to help them learn the responsibilities of the role and acclimate to the company culture faster.

  1. Coach

The second step is high directive and high supportive behavior. While you are still teaching, you are guiding more and instructing less.

The coaching step is helpful for employees who have been working for a few weeks, but are still learning. As they master new skills, it’s important to be encouraging as a manager. People who are new on the job appreciate additional support and guidance.

  1. Support

The third step involves high supportive and low directive behavior. Once this employee is competent and has mastered the skills, you can take a backseat from teaching and stick to offering support and encouragement.

The supportive approach is for employees who have mastered the responsibilities of their position and require minimal supervision. While you don’t need to instruct them, you need to continue giving positive feedback to help them stay on track.

  1. Delegate

The fourth step is low supportive and low directive behavior. The employee takes complete ownership of their role and you offer minimal assistance. As a leader, delegating shows you are confident in their skills and are comfortable having them work independently. 

Adaptability is the foundation of the situational leadership model. During a time when everything is subject to change, it’s important to acclimate and adjust your leadership strategy accordingly. And remember, if you find yourself going backwards through these steps with people who used to take ownership of their roles, remember to be flexible and understanding with them because everyone handles a crisis differently.