Situational Leadership II: know your team!

In the previous instalment on Situational Leadership theory, we discussed how it is possible to improve our leadership skills by recognising the different types of leadership styles and using the one most appropriate for your team’s needs. However, the other side of this concept also needs to be taken into account, namely, the specific characteristics of team members, their experience, expectations, and attitudes towards the specific tasks they have to fulfil. 


To address these topics, this second, final instalment on Situational Leadership theory for Young Professionals will deal with the types of team members and their characteristics, in order to match each leadership type with the corresponding employees.

Situational leadership GILE

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The dynamics of being an employee

We know that being a good leader involves knowing your team and recognising the most useful style to adopt for each member, but the fact that team members also have varying approaches and attitudes can easily be overlooked. Leadership involves recognizing the stage that each team member is currently at, in order to pursue a leadership style that better moves them towards the desired goal.


It is very important to realise that every employee changes their attitudes and overall performance with every new task or goal. Thus, the development process is not a ladder which employees only climb upwards, but rather a cycle that starts all over again when changes on tasks or activities are applied.


Think about it like a new subject at university, or those new topics that arise every week: consolidating the taught content we had this week does not imply that we already know everything about the upcoming lesson. Just as we students regularly go back to learning mode, adapting, practising, and understanding processes, as workers the development process is similar. Thus the development stages, as classified by the Situational Leadership theory, are:

Teamwork GILE

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1. Low Competence and High Commitment: new employees or young professionals are representative of this group. Lack of knowledge but a lot of enthusiasm is paired with a “Directing” leadership style, which is less flexible, but easier to follow. This way, the employee gains experience and confidence at performing the task at hand.


2. Some Competence and Low Commitment: this usually applies to very experienced workers, people who know what they are doing, but no longer have the enthusiasm to show for it, or have already overcome so many projects that in their minds one more does not make a difference. In this case, the “Coaching” leadership style is ideal, as it provides some direction while helping the employee in the improvement of their abilities and overall development, in order to increase their interest and commitment.


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Natalia Pitta Osses

Article Writer & Content Contributor

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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