One definition of situational leadership is, "the art of adjusting your leadership style to effectively respond to any change in your environment." That is a pretty basic, accurate definition. But there should be so much more involved. Being able to respond to changes in an environment is a good thing. But what about the overall vision from that leading position?
There should certainly be a willingness and ability to lift others up higher by your example and conviction. And there should be that inward moral compass that serves as our action firewall. Just before we do something that takes us away from the correct path, we need that little voice telling us to re-calculate.
I'll include some opinions from a few excellent authors in this page. Their empowering books have helped many people. We'll use a bit of history to show the direction a company or a government or a person can go without that moral compass pointing to true north.
The real test of any situational leadership skill set shows through during a crisis. It could be a personal crisis for a young college student facing new choices and peer influenced decisions. You might hold a position within a corporation or might even be the owner when a chance to cut corners or cut someone out presents itself. Will the short term potential offset the consequences of an action?
If you think about the corporate failures of the last few years, most of the time there have been similar personality traits among those responsible. The two biggest would probably be lack of integrity and an absolute unwillingness to consider a differing opinion.
Tremendous author Stephen Covey wrote some great leadership development books. I would consider him an expert in that field. He wrote, "Leadership is not a position. It is moral authority. Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, treating people with respect."
Situational leadership that excels does so by following strong morals and positive values. Situational leadership that is based on autocratic demands and deceit will always fail. It may flourish for a while, but sooner or later it crumbles.
Think about the Bernie Madoff example. He pulled that con game off for a long time. And some people knew about it very early on, but failed to do the right thing. Were they part of the crime? They certainly were not part of the solution. Perhaps they were scared to speak out? Maybe the culture within the Madoff organization was to squash dissent. Or pay it off.
William Baker, author of "Leading With Kindness", puts it this way in regard to the see no evil, speak no evil that aided these business meltdowns. "When the Mercedes was coming right up to the cliff, there were plenty of people who knew. They were either afraid to say so because the boss was imperious, or he didn't listen."
Do that sound even a little bit like the elected officials who are supposed to be leading this country?
How does this continue to occur? Because the wrong people are picked to lead groups, business ventures and governments. Far too often the slick teleprompter presenter or the smooth talking sales person is selected, when the best choice would be someone focused on building teamwork and lifting up people.
There seems to be a void in upcoming potential leaders. Maybe it is the growing entitlement mentality that suggests the government will take care of them. Maybe it is a feeling of hopelessness. "What can I do by myself."
It can start with one. Everything starts with just one. It might be the parents reading this page. Maybe they work a little harder to inspire the fundamentals of situational leadership in their kids. Maybe they set the example by being active citizens in elections at every level.
Ken Blanchard author of the classic edition, "The One Minute Manager" collaborated with Paul Hersey, whose book is actually titled, "The Situational Leader" on this vital program.
In a nut shell, it involves teaching people to become leaders and then to teach those skills to other people, empowering them to be better. They stress being flexible depending on the strengths and challenges of the organization. There are two chambers in the United States congress filled with men and women who could use that lesson.
Successful situational leadership must be backed by a strong moral compass. An organization, a business, a group of friends or a federal government being led by people with no moral direction cannot succeed. As you read in the page about the reasons why character counts, intelligent, well-informed people won't fully buy into talent that has no truth. Truth is always the cornerstone.
We need more leaders with high moral standards and a servant leadership mentality. We need young people to seize the roles of those willing to first learn situational leadership and then to teach it. Tough times will come up. Integrity based situational leadership mentors will show others how to survive and prosper in those times.
"Teach your children well" to take on those roles.